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Zombie fly attacking US honeybees, scientists launch Zombeewatch.org.
Scientists are recruiting zombie hunters in an effort to help preserve the much beleaguered honeybee population, launching Zombeewatch.org this week to gather research from across the continent.
Earlier this year, researchers discovered honeybees in California and South Dakota acting erratically – flying at night, abandoning hives and generally stumbling around.
Upon closer inspection, they found parasitic fly larvae hatching from inside bees in California.
The culprit was the zombie fly, which was using honeybees as host for their offspring.
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San Francisco State University biology professor John Hafernik found almost three-quarters of sampled bees suffered from zombie fly attacks.
“We found that they walked around in circles, often with no sense of direction,” said Andrew Core, lead author on the study published in Plos One. “They kept stretching [their legs] out and then falling over. It really painted a picture of something like a zombie.”
It’s considered another possible cause of colony collapse disorder, a frightening trend that’s affecting honeybees around the world.
Bee pollination is essential for crops and plant production.
To determine the zombie fly’s impact, Zombeewatch.org offers detailed instructions on how to study honeybees.
“If we can enlist a dedicated group of citizen scientists to help us, together we can answer important questions and help honeybees at the same time,” Hafernik said, according to Scientific American.
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