After being parasitized by the Apocephalus borealis fly, infected zombie-like bees abandon their hives and congregate near outside lights, moving in increasingly erratic circles before dying.
In response to this odd phenomenon researchers have launched ZomBeeWatch.org, a citizen science project to report possible sightings of the parasitized bees. The researchers hope to find out how far the parasite has spread and how many honeybee hives might be affected. So far, the Zombie Fly has been found parasitizing honeybees in California and South Dakota. Help researchers determine if the fly has spread to honeybees across North America.
The ZomBeeWatch site asks people to collect bees that appear to have died underneath outside lights, or appear to be behaving strangely under the lights, in a container or in a glassine envelope. They can then watch for signs that indicate the bee was parasitized by the fly, which usually deposits its eggs into a bee's abdomen. About seven days after the bee dies, fly larvae push their way into the world from between the bee’s head and thorax and form brown, pill-shaped pupae that are equivalent to a butterfly’s chrysalis.
- PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: John Hafernik
- SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: San Francisco State University
- DATES: Ongoing
- PROJECT TYPE: Observation
- COST: Free
- GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
- TIME COMMITMENT: Variable
- HOW TO JOIN: