Parasite crawling out of praying mantis is being called ‘The Last Of Us in real life’
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Viewers have been left well and truly grossed out after watching a video of a parasite crawling out of a praying mantis, comparing it to something out of The Last Of Us.
It's not the only comparison made between nature and the HBO show recently - you may have seen the real-life cordyceps fungus from the Last of Us, which can infect ants and other insects.
The horrifying fungus rewires the insects' brains and makes them climb so it can spread its spores onto other unsuspecting insects.
For the poor insects, however, cordyceps may well be the least of their worries as other parasitic creatures abound in the world beneath our feet. Among them is the deeply unsettling Horsehair Worm.
This grisly parasite - which can grow up to 90cm - lays its eggs, which are then eaten by small insects such as crickets. That cricket is then in turn eaten by larger predatory insects, such as the unfortunate mantis in this video.
This is not an uncommon thing in nature. Lots of parasites follow similar lifecycles without doing any permanent harm to their hosts, though that doesn't mean having them hitch a ride is a pleasant experience.
After a large predatory insect such as a mantis inadvertently eats the eggs, the worms hatch and begin to grow inside the mantis.
Once they are big enough inside the insect, they start to be able to make it do things for them. With the horsehair worm, that means compelling the mantis to throw itself into water.
In the water, the horsehair worms then erupt from the squirming body of the mantis and make their way off to lay eggs and so begin the circle of life once again.
Isn't nature beautiful?