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Insect Walking Dead: How a fungus turns beetles into killer zombies

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Steven Sentell
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Just before a deadly fungus kills the goldenrod soldier beetle, it instructs the beetle to climb a plant and clamp its mandibles around a flower.

[ See Photos of the Zombie Beetles Hanging from Flowers ]

Steinkraus first spotted these bizarre, zombie-like beetles on a research farm in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

He remembers seeing hundreds of yellow-and-black soldier beetles on a patch of blooming wild asters.

The beetles were eating pollen and mating — "the flowers were sort of like a dating site that also offered food," Steinkraus told Live Science in an email.

Adult C. pensylvanicus may look like wasps or bees, but they're actually harmless beetles and key pollinators that have a life span of a year, Steinkraus said.

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