Researchers from the San Francisco State University in the U.S. have discovered that a fly parasite can turn honey bees into confused "zombies" before killing them.
The researchers found that the fly inserts its eggs into the bee's abdomen. However, they couldn't find figure out how the parasite manages to do so.
The bee literally fights between life and death once the fly's eggs enter its body. After seven days, the bee mysteriously dies and the fly larvae come out of the bee's body. If the bee is still alive after seven days, it appears to have lost its sense of direction and goes round in a circle.
John Hafernik, professor of Biology at the San Francisco State University, said that he had accidently discovered the bees. He took them to his room and, after some time, found that the bees were dead and surrounded by larvae.
So far, the fly parasite is seen in California and South Dakota. However, there is possibility that it can also infect honey bees colony in North America too.
"We don't know the best way to stop parasitization because one of the big things we're missing is where the flies are parasitizing the bees," says Hafernik.
"We assume it's while the bees are out foraging, because we don't see the flies hanging around the bee hives. But it's still a bit of a black hole in terms of where it's actually happening," he said.
The discovery could help solve the mystery behind the fast disappearance of the bee colonies. Bees are crucial for the survival of many living beings since pollination helps sustain life on the Earth.