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Faux fruit

·1 min

Berry pickers beware. Scientists have discovered a parasitic worm that infects the giant gliding ant (Cephalotes atratus) and turns its rear end bright red so that it resembles a ripe, juicy berry. And if that’s not enough, the worm lays hundreds of eggs that somehow make the ant wave its rosy rump in the air. This tricks birds into eating the unpalatable insect and spreading the parasite via their feces. The bird poop is then collected again by ants, fed to their young, and the cycle starts anew. The transformation is the first example of parasites causing fruit mimicry, a team reports in the April issue of The American Naturalist.