Inside the Parasitic Realm: 45 Eye-Opening Facts About Nature’s Silent Predators

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1Parasitic Pinworms

Parasitic Pinworms

Over 11% of all Americans are infected with parasitic pinworms. These pinworms crawl out of your anus to lay their eggs, which make your butt itch at night. This makes you scratch the area and helps these sticky eggs spread, often to your food, thereby repeating the cycle.

2. The majority of infections from swimming pools and hot tubs are caused by cryptosporidium, a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites which are released (anally) into the water and then consumed (orally) by fellow swimmers. Hotel pools are the primary place of infection.

3. Spinochordodes Tellinii is a parasitic worm which infects grasshoppers. When fully grown, it forces the grasshopper to seek water and drown itself to be able to return to the water.

4. Spinochordodes Tellinii is a parasitic worm which infects grasshoppers. When fully grown, it forces the grasshopper to seek water and drown itself to be able to return to the water. Former U.S President Jimmy Carter has helped to reduce the Guinea Worm Disease cases worldwide from 3.5 million per year to just 126. This disease is now at the brink of extinction.

5. There is a freshwater parasite called Naegleria Fowleri which can enter your brain through your nasal cavity while swimming in freshwater lakes or poorly sanitized pools. It is an amoeba which destroys human brain tissue within days and is fatal in over 97% of the cases.

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Some animals are forced to commit suicide when a parasite takes over their brain. One example is Acanthocephala, which infects crustaceans, and forces them to swim to the water's surface so they can be eaten by ducks.

7. More than 90% of Greenland sharks are blind, due to a parasite called 'Ommatokoita elongatathat' which lives exclusively in the eyes of the sharks, damaging their corneas.

8. The "Lazy Southerner" stereotype originated from people infected with the parasite hookworm, a disease that is spread through feces in the soil. It is still prevalent in some areas of America that have no plumbing.

9. "Jewish Housewives' Disease" is caused by a tapeworm transmitted from fish. The infection is often asymptomatic and usually presents only with mild symptoms, which may include gastrointestinal complaints, weight loss, and fatigue. It got its name because Jewish women making gefilte fish used to taste it before it was fully cooked, exposing them to the parasite.

10. There is a classification of parasites known as parasitic aphrodisiacs. They are sexually transmitted and also augment the libido of the host to promote its propagation. One example of such a parasite is Trypanosoma Equiperdum which causes covering sickness in horses, but also increases mating behavior in them.

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11Culicoides Anophelis

Culicoides Anophelis

Mosquitoes have parasites of their own. Culicoides Anophelis is a flying midge that sucks blood from mosquitoes.

12. Moose can fall victim to a parasite commonly called a brain worm. In the advanced stages of the parasitic illness, the moose will walk in circles until full paralysis sets in. This brain worm named, Parelaphostrongylus Tenuis, can also infect reindeers, deer, sheep, goats, and guinea pigs.

13. There is a parasite named ‘Diplostomum Pseudospathaceum’ that can live inside the eyeball of a fish and control its behavior. When the parasite is young, it helps its host stay safe from predators. But once it matures, it does everything it can to make the fish easy to catch and continue its life cycle.

14. There is nematomorph parasite named ‘Paragordius Tricuspidatus’ which infects crickets but it also needs an aquatic habitat to survive. To achieve this, the parasite infects the cricket’s brain and causes it to seek water and drown itself.

15. There is a parasite named ‘Nosema Bombi’ which makes male bumblebees too fat to mate. It is one of the reasons bumblebees are dying out.

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16Tracheal Mites

Tracheal Mites

Honey bees can have a parasite living in their windpipes called tracheal mites. They are relatives of spiders and are so tiny they are less than seven ten-thousandths of an inch. These Acarapis Woodi mites can pierce the bee’s tracheal tube wall, feed on its blood (hemolymph) and weaken it.

17. Balamuthia Mandrillaris is one of the deadliest parasites in the world. This amoeba lives in soil and enters the human body through open wounds or the respiratory system. Less than 2% of the people it has infected have survived.

18. To protect themselves from parasitic wasps, fruit flies seek out food with higher alcohol content. One of their most dangerous predators, parasitic wasps inject eggs into fruit fly larva. Larva’s immune system can sometimes resist the wasp growing inside it, but most often the wasp larva eats the fly from the inside out, later bursting out as a mature wasp.

19. There is a wasp named after Shakira called "Aleiodes Shakirae." Since parasitism by this species causes the host caterpillar to bend and twist its abdomen in various ways, and Shakira is also famous for her belly-dancing, the name seems particularly appropriate for this species.

20. The Ribeiroia worm infects, grows and reproduces inside the snails, which it castrates so that they don’t waste time on making eggs or looking for a mate. Then it moves to a tadpole and causes the frog to develop extra legs, making it more susceptible to birds of prey. Finally, when it is inside a bird, it lays its eggs.

21Toxoplasmosis Gondii in Rats

Toxoplasmosis Gondii in Rats

The Toxoplasmosis Gondii parasite causes the infected mice to not fear cats because it needs a cat's body as its host to reproduce.

22. There is a parasitic wasp than infects and then biochemically mind-controls some spiders turning them into zombie architects. The wasp then dictates the spider to build a cozy web and then pops out of its body.

23. One of the most common causes of seizures worldwide in humans is neurocysticercosis. It is an infectious parasitic disease acquired by ingesting the pig tapeworm, which causes cysts to form after the infection takes hold within the brain.

24. There is a parasite that "zombifies" snails and forces them to march to their death to the tops of trees to be eaten by birds so that the parasite can spread via bird droppings.

25. Plasmodium Falciparum is the parasite which causes malaria in humans. It first infests your liver. It can stay there for months on end developing without symptoms. Afterward, they infect red blood cells and cover themselves with the cell membranes to protect themselves from the body's immune system.

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