- Group: Tetradonematid Nematode
Compared to the other body-snatching parasites on this list, the Myrmeconema neotropicum is incredibly new. It is a nematode. To be fair, it is specifically a tetradonematid nematode, which is technically a worm. It differs from the others you might see in that it has to rely on a heck of a lot of luck to even come to pass. Get this, the nematode gets inside a South American ant which is then picked up and eaten by a bird of any kind. After the nematode passes through the bird’s digestive system, the eggs are sent out through the bird’s well, you can take two guesses here. From there, eggs are then picked up by ants and then fed to their larvae.
Now, the immature ant’s guts are filled with the eggs that then migrate to the gaster of the ant where they end up fully maturing. Once mature, the nematode will then reproduce inside the gaster. While males pass away soon after mating, females will hold eggs within themselves. As the ant becomes a young adult, its gaster actually becomes translucent. That is when you can see the red embryos from the parasite. In fact, this area only gets redder the longer this parasite remains inside it. Now, it looks like a red berry that birds will be attracted to. Once the ant goes out, it is then eaten by a bird. This, of course, starts the nematode’s lifecycle over again.