There are several varieties of parasites that, as part of their life cycle, 'zombify' or mind-control their hosts in order to procreate. The typical strategy is to cause the host to lose inhibitions or self-preservation, and therefore expose itself to predation or other harm in order to distribute larva or advance its life cycle. The Cordyceps fungus takes over ants and spiders, the Horsehair worms take over crickets, the broodsac flatworm controls snails. All lovely lifeforms that are cause for plenty of skin-crawling.
Although known since the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the Rhizocephala parasitic barnacle popped up on several nature blogs last year, probably due to a lull in people finding things to cringe at on the Internet.
|Illustration by the incomparable Ernst Haekel|
And so, I'll make it a game critter...