By Anupum Pant
While you are in the USA and you see a really conspicuous snail with two green banded horns growing out of its head that seem to make a periodic motion (as you’ll see in the video below), just try to stay away. That’s because this snail isn’t what it is supposed to be. It’s being controlled by a mind controlling parasite.
A snail is a snail and it isn’t supposed to have those amazing horns on its head, right? You know that now, but birds can’t read this. So when they see a snail like this one, they assume it to be a caterpillar – bird’s favourite food. In fact, they see two of them and swoop down to have a good brunch. Little do they know, they are infecting themselves with an evil creature, and in the process are also helping a parasite achieve its life goal.
Leucochloridium paradoxum or the green banded brood sac is a parasite that lives in the bird poop. Of course, they live in the poop of birds that were infected by it at some point. If you ask me how did the parasite get into a bird in the first place, it’s like asking what came first, the egg or the chicken. May be it went into a caterpillar when it first started. And then a bird ate that caterpillar.
So the reason larvae of this parasite live in bird poop is because their ultimate goal in life is to go live in the warm interiors of a bird and feed off of it for the rest of its life. And inject babies in bird poop to keep their race alive. Yes, at least they have their meaning of life figured out.
But that doesn’t explain how bird poop goes back into a bird. So, you have to dig deeper. And when you do that, the “double horned snail” comes into the picture.
Snails love eating bird poop. Don’t ask me why. They do. So when they eat it, the green banded broodsac gets into the snail, gets bigger, moves towards its eyes and starts protruding out by swelling the eyes. Once it has done that it goes on to develop green bands like a caterpillar and starts moving in a periodic fashion like a caterpillar would appear to do. That fools the birds into thinking it’s a caterpillar.
But the evil parasite doesn’t stop there. It goes on to hack into the snail’s brain and rides it like go-cart to the top of a tree canopy, or somewhere noticeable like that. So the birds would notice it and eat it. And if they do, the larva moves into the birds interior and another parasite accomplishes its life goal.