One of the neatest gifts I got this past Squidmas was the Planet Earth series on DVD. While J and I were at my mother’s house on Squidmas day, we took an hour or two to watch the Jungles episode. One of the most striking features of the Jungles episode was the bit on Cordyceps, a parasitic fungus that invades the bodies of mostly arthropods and some fungi.
The species of Cordyceps I find most fascinating is Cordyceps unilateralis which not only invades the bodies of ants, but also influences the behavior of the ants, causing them to climb to high perches from where, once the Cordyceps erupts, spores can be spread over a wide area.
Each species of Cordyceps invades only one or a very small number of species of arthropods. While Cordyceps unilateralis targets ants, Cordyceps sinensis attacks the larva of Thitarodes, a genus of Asian moth.
Here's a photo of an ant infected with Cordyceps fungus:
Kinda reminds me of this scene: