A neotropical black ant, Cephalotes atratus,
infected with the newly described parasitic nematode,
The ant's infected and swollen abdomen does not actually take on a red pigment.
It becomes a translucent amber. With the yellowish parasite eggs inside and a touch
of sunlight, it appears bright red.
Image: Steve Yanoviak, University of Arkansas.
In the first known example of a parasite causing its animal host to mimic a ripe fruit, scientists have described a new parasitic worm that causes its neotropical black ant host, Cephalotes atratus, to resemble a luscious red berry that tempts hungry birds to eat it, thereby giving rise to a new generation of the worms.