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UD had just read him this NPR article, which she thinks might be an out of season April Fool’s gag. Here are excerpts, with occasional parenthetic commentary from UD.

A fungus called Massospora, which can produce compounds of cathinone — an amphetamine — infects a small number of [cicadas] and makes them lose control.

The fungus takes over their bodies, causing them to lose their lower abdomen and genitals. And it pushes their mating into hyperdrive.

“This is stranger than fiction,” Matt Kasson, an associate professor of forest pathology and mycology at West Virginia University, tells NPR’s All Things Considered. “To have something that’s being manipulated by a fungus, to be hypersexual and to have prolonged stamina and just mate like crazy.”

… [J]ust before the cicadas rise from the ground, the spores of the fungus start to infect the bug. Once it’s above ground and starts to shed its skin to become an adult, its butt falls off.

Then a “white plug of fungus” starts to grow in its place.

… The insects have no idea what’s happening.

[It was about here – when the NPR writer reassured us that the cicadas have no awareness they’ve become buttplugged zombies – that ol’ UD began to wonder if something April Oneish might be going on… Don’t worry we’re sure they are unaware… Huh?]

Males that are infected will continue to mate with females, but they’ll also pretend to be females so they can spread the fungus to even more partners. [Now it’s Lesbian World War Z.]

… “It’s sexually transmissible,” Kasson tells NPR. “It’s a failed mating attempt, of course, because there’s no genitalia back there.”

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The story’s origin is clearly The Golden Screw story, which my father – with lights out and much spectral OOOOing – told the four Rapp kids every Halloween. UD thought it was just her family’s story – just her father’s creation – until, for this post, she looked it up, and it’s like this major American joke/folktale. Her father’s only contribution was to Judaify the punch line: “And then… [long pause… ] his TUSHY FELL OFF.”

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Anyway, Mr UD just thought the whole thing was gross. UD of course has been laughing… her butt off.

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