CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again


'Zombie virus' making caterpillars explode

Commentary: In the UK, a virus is making caterpillars inch toward the sun instead of away from it. With sad consequences.

 Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

To tiptoe

Protect your local caterpillar from itself.

Getty Images

A large swathe of humanity wanders around each day in a zombified state.

In the UK, the same plight is befalling caterpillars.

A virus has infected caterpillars that makes them act with like zombies. As the Telegraph reported Tuesday, some have been attacked by baculovirus, a very small pathogen that preys on the smaller members of the natural world.

In the case of UK caterpillars, the virus makes them move toward the sun, rather than shy away from it.

The result? They burst in the heat and their exoskeleton disintegrates. Worse, each drop of goo from their liquefied remains holds millions of viruses.

The Wildlife Trusts, an organization that manages nature reserves in the UK, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, Chris Miller, mosslands manager for The Wildlife Trusts in Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, told the Telegraph: "It's like a zombie horror film." 

Should you be in the UK and see a caterpillar atop plant, rather than shading itself, please contact the Trusts. 

This isn't the first time caterpillars have been known to explode. 

The virus has been around for 100 years. In 2011, Jim Slavicek of the US Forest Service was moved to muse: "Who knew that a virus could change the behavior of its host? Maybe this is why we go to work when we have a cold."

Yes, maybe. Or maybe it's because we think our boss is a heartless, ruthless zombie.

Still, the sheer visual of exploding caterpillars will transfix many minds. 

I can already see some enterprising Hollywoodian trying to raise money for "Night of the Exploding Zombie Caterpillars."

The Smartest Stuff: Innovators are thinking up new ways to make you, and the things around you, smarter. Here's what they're up to.

Intolerance on the Internet: Online abuse is as old as the internet and it's only getting worse. It exacts a very real toll.