Day 24: Megolaponera Foetens


Dear all, once again I must apologize for the day of absence from blogging. I have two excuses this time: 1) I did not want to put up a post for day 23, since 23 is cleary a very scary number (as Jim Carrey’s latest film tells us–which, btw, has nothing do to with the German film 23, which was actually, in contradistinction to Jim Carrey’s latest achievement, well, good) and 2) I was trying to finish a dissertation chapter.

I am still not quite done with the chapter, but it is all starting to look a little better than before.  I still have to write about a bunch of stuff, including Alien, Blade Runner, V for Vendetta and The Matrix, as well as about several novels by Butler, Robinson and McCarthy, but I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I have, however, just finished writing a section on megolaponera foetens,  the stink ant of the Cameroon of West Central Africa (picture above). Here the description of the problem I am highly interested in:

“On occasion one of these ants, while looking for food is infected by inhaling a microscopic spore from a fungus of the genus Tomentella. After being inhaled, the spore seats in the ant’s tiny brain and begins to grow, causing changes in the ant’s patterns of behavior. The Ant appears troubled and confused; for the first time in its life the ant leaves the forest floor and begins to climb.

Driven on by the growth of the fungus, the ant embarks on a long and exhaustive climb. Completely spent and having reached a prescribed height, the ant impales the plant with its mandibles. Thus affixed, the ant waits to die. Ants that have met their ends in this fashion are quite common in some sections of the forest.

The fungus continues to consume first the nerve cells and finally all the soft tissue that remains of the ant. After approximately two weeks a spike appears from what had been the head of the ant. This spike is about an inch and a half in length and has a bright orange tip heavy with spores which rain down onto the rain forest floor for other unsuspecting ants to inhale. “

I do enjoy the zoological equivalent to a Moebius Strip quite a bit. Also, I have no idea how I just changed the font. Can’t undo it. Interesting. But fancy! For more information on this insect please contact the Museum of Jurassic Technology (which also offers great research into “improbable folk remedies” such as “duck’s breath,” or “mice on toast.”

Am I losing it? What if IT was just a conspiracy of Enlightenment philosophy?



  1. Wicked! The rainforest equivalent to the chestbursting Alien! Equivalent to the Moebius Strip because there is not end to this circle of infections, climbs and spore-pouring? (But wouldn’t that be, err, humanocentric? Doesn’t the human reproduction cycle appear just as pointless, if looked at form the perspective of, say, a 1000-years-old creature?)

    The font: I guess you have the advanced editing mode switched on (I think that is the default option), and with the text from your diss, you copied the font family as well. You can switch that off if you want to, which means more control but than paste fonts any longer.

  2. you can’t paste fonts any longer…

  3. Better fewer posts but higher quality. I am not inspired at all, and semester stress is kicking in as well.

  4. Sorry to hear about the semester stress already beginning! Didn’t you just start?
    Thanks for your continuous help in my process of figuring out this highly complicated mechanism of communication.
    Yes, the significance of human reproduction from this point of view seems quite sobering: human beings as merely the vehicles in the perpetuation of energy/life as a regressus ad infinitum.
    And: yes, killer-fungus is very much like chestbursting alien, which is why I will fight my way through _Alien_ one more time tonight.

  5. I think I read something similar recently, probably a brief note Der Spiegel, about a fish or zooplankton being reprogrammed by bacteria… must look for it

    Yes, semester just started, and although I have internally already resigned, I cannot stop improving my courses which means more work for the same pay, unfortunately

  6. hi there! got here after googling Megolaponera foetens.

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