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Psychedelic fungus gives cicadas insatiable appetite for food and sex

After 17 years of introverted, underground living, Brood X cicadas have emerged with an insatiable appetite for food and sex.

A fungus, otherwise known as Massospora cicadina, has infected the periodical cicadas to the point of self-cannibalism and increased sex drive.

The fungus, which has been linked to psychedelic mushrooms, lays dormant in the soil until the cicadas emerge. Then the fungas activates, causing the cicadas to enter an intense food and fornication frenzy.

cicada brood x food sex
Image: Scientific American

Sadly, this powerful fungi is no fun-guy, resulting in the loss of the lower abdomen and reproductive organs.

This creates pressure on the cicadas to successfully reproduce, driving male cicadas to imitate female cicadas in a frantic bid to attract more partners and spread the fungus.

The cicadas are unaware of what is occurring, as the fungus hijacks their bodies and pushes them into overdrive.

Matt Kasson, associate Professor of forest pathology and mycology, states that a “white plug of fungus,” that looks somewhat like chalk, replaces the reproductive organs. Yeesh.

He assumes that the bugs are in no pain, with only 5 per cent of the cicadas being infected by Massospora.

On a side note, due to their linkage with amphetamines, people are open to consuming these cicadas, in the hopes of experiencing a high.

While amphetamines may be one of the chemical compounds found in the bugs, the others may not be safe for human consumption, but you do you boo.

As such, Brood X’s return to the surface has caused quite the stir within the foodie community.

Despite health uncertainties, others believe that their “eco-friendly protein” and free-range qualities make the cicadas an ideal dish. Chefs are preparing to use the bug in paella, sushi and on pizza. It is suggested that the ‘nymph’ stage is preferable, due to taste.

Others have continued the food creativity with recipes for spicy cicada popcorn, delish!

cicada brood x fungus reproduce
Image: New York Times

However, if you’re allergic to “soy, nuts or shellfish“, TRY to resist eating these crunchy critters.