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This Strange Phenomenon In Vermont Is Too Weird For Words

Zombie-mania has seemingly taken over the media lately, but no one truly believes they are real. Well guess what – Zombies are not only real, but in 2013, a beekeeper in Burlington detected the first confirmed zombie instance in the eastern United States.

While these zombies are not the same as you’ll find on the AMC hit series The Walking Dead, they are definitely real. Let’s talk about these “Zombie Bees” or, more accurately, ZomBees.

What is a ZomBee exactly? ZomBees are “created” when regular honeybees get infected with a particular type of parasite. The bees begin to display highly erratic and bizarre behavior that is very zombie-like. Specifically, they fly around in a disoriented way, are attracted to light, fly around at night, fall down and wander around in a way that is reminiscent of how zombies are portrayed in the movies.

Zombees were first discovered in 2008 in California by Biology Professor, John Hafernik, at the San Francisco State University. He has said that they’ve taken to calling the infected bees after they have left their hives “The flight of the living dead.”  Check out if there are any confirmed Zombees where you live by clicking here.

The source of the creation of these zombees is the Apocephalus borealis, a parasitic fly that is known to implant its eggs in ants. The fly larvae live off the ant’s brains, and dissolve their connective tissues and eventually kill the ants. But these flies have apparently found a new home for their eggs – the honeybee commonly found in the United states. The flies lay their eggs in the bees and the effects on the bees begins as soon as the they have been infested with eggs. Honey bees infected by the Zombie Fly leave their hives at night and are attracted to nearby lights where they become stranded and eventually die. The presence of fly larvae in some honey bee hives makes the Zombie Fly a potential contributor to hive declines.

Do you want to become a ZomBee hunter? You’re in luck! Zombee Watch is a citizen science project sponsored by the San Francisco State University Department of Biology and it’s easy to become involved. Not only is this a legitimate orginazition, it was named in the Top Ten Citizen Science Projects of 2015 by Discover Magazine.

Did you know that Vermont had Zombees? Be sure to join the Only in Vermont Facebook page for cool articles like this every day!

Kristin Grimes
Kristin Grimes lives in Vermont, is a freelance writer and busy MOM (Manager of Madness) and WIFE (Washing, Ironing, Feeding, Etc.)