He walks around the yard with a spray bottle, because he’s a boy and why not. Spraying fence posts and bugs and the goats and then, a cricket. He sprays the cricket with water from his bottle and the strangest thing happens. A long, stringy, wiry thing exits through the cricket’s butt.
He does what any boy would do. He gathers it all up in a jar and brings it inside to show his mom and his brothers. And wouldn’t you know it, amazing older brother can explain what is going on.
It’s a nematomorph, I think, he says. (He really said that. That’s how he talks. Really.) It’s a parasite that invades crickets and grows inside them and then does something to them that makes them want to commit suicide by jumping into water, and then the parasite swims out of the cricket and it starts all over.
Creepy, and accurate. We looked it up. Sure enough, Colton was right.
It’s a Gordiid, named after the famous Gordian knot which no one could untie until Alexander the Great came along and sliced it apart with his sword.
Gordiids begin their lives as larvae in fresh water. A swamp or dugout or lake or something. Some kind of aquatic insect eats the larvae, the larvae immediately encysts, and the aquatic insect completes its life cycle as a flying insect. Flying insect dies, cricket eats dead flying insect, cyst inside dead winged insect hatches inside cricket, grows, invades, and eventually manipulates the cricket into thinking death by drowning is the way to go. Once the worm senses water, it exits, hoping to lay eggs to begin the next generation.
The thing that gets me the most is the manipulation part. I mean, it’s bad enough to have a twelve to thirty-six inch wire thing-y living inside you, but to be manipulated to the point of suicide, well…
Manipulation. Dangerous stuff, whether it’s Gordiids, parents, advertisers, or religions.