Birds apparently are merely a way to spread the parasite's eggs more broadly, since the eggs pass directly through into the feces. Ants become infected when they feed to ant larvae the bird feces containing parasite eggs.
"It's just crazy that something as dumb as a nematode can manipulate its host's exterior morphology and behavior in ways sufficient to convince a clever bird to facilitate transmission of the nematode," says Robert Dudley, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley.
"This is a really great example of the kinds of complex host-parasite interactions that can co-evolve, and also of the role of serendipity in tropical biology," Dudley said.Story Teller: Robert Dudley, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Ant Parasite Turns Host Into Ripe Red Berry