#3. Sacculina Will Make You Her Bitch. Literally.
Sacculina has adopted the age-old parasite disguise of sounding like a really hot Italian chick. Well, we're not fooled.
Sacculina is actually a not-at-all-hot female barnacle that is able to inject itself into various species of crab, grow inside them and eventually emerge from the carapace as a large sac. Right near his genitals.
There, sacculina goes to work. She manipulates the crab's hormones, sterilizing and basically emasculating him. Next, the parasite starts forcing changes in the crab's body to make it resemble a female, presumably by causing a couple of huge crab boobs to flop out. As the final insult, she forces her victim to perform humiliating female mating dances.
Finally when it comes time for sacculina to release her fertilized eggs--after having had sex with another sacculina on top of the poor crab's genitalia, that is--the former male crab is compelled to release them into the ocean and stir the water with his claw, as if the eggs were his own.
Where the crab's genitals used to be, that's sacculina.
Again, there are no known cases of this happening to a human, but, you know. If you see a huge egg sac growing near your junk we urge you to get it checked out right away.
#2. Mind Control, Part I: Leocochloridium Paradoxum
Leucochloridium paradoxum is a parasite that has an impossible dream. Luey, as it shall henceforth be known, begins life literally in a puddle of shit. But Luey dreams of flight, and the method by which it achieves it is both complicated and fucked-up beyond comprehension.
First, knowing how much some animals love to eat shit, Luey lies in wait in his fecal puddle until the vacuum cleaner of nature, more commonly known as the snail, comes around to slurp it up.
Once inside the snail, Luey enacts the next part of his ingenious plan. Knowing that birds aren't too fond of eating slimy snails, he migrates to the snail's eyestalks and begins to stretch and change them into something that looks much more appetizing to birds: caterpillars.
The eyestalks that are usually so well-guarded and often retracted by the snail, are now pulsating, swollen and brightly-colored morsels of imitation caterpillar meat. Wait, it's not done.
Now is when Luey hacks into the snail's brain. It takes complete control, driving it like a little, slimy car out into the open so all of the hungry birds in the sky can see and swoop down on the irresistible caterpillar-like eyestalks.
Kind of like this.
Once inside the luxuriously spacious and soaring bird, Luey is free to feed on its insides, grow into an adult and reproduce knowing that soon, his babies will be shat out of the bird like he was, to start their own rags-to-riches lives. Meanwhile, the poor and confused snail is less one eyestalk, but has learned the hard way that eating shit is always a bad idea.
#1. Mind Control, Part II: The Emerald Jewel Wasp
The emerald jewel wasp is a marvel of evolution. And evil.
The female, not being content with just laying her eggs in a hole and hoping the larvae find a way to survive like other insects, makes sure that her larvae will hatch right on top of their preferred food source: a cockroach. The problem with that is a typical cockroach is aggressive, and two to three times larger and beefier than the female.
She has found a way around this. An inventive, terrifying way.
Like a surgeon, the wasp uses her long stinger to penetrate the surprised cockroach, to paralyze and anesthetize the front section of its body. Now, she can take her sweet time, to make sure the second injection of her stinger is perfectly placed into a specific area of the roach's brain. She injects more venom directly into it, precisely blocking very specific receptors of neurotransmitters that essentially destroy the roach's fight or flight responses and leave it zombified.
Yes, the wasp knows how to do this.
Now in control of her very own cockroach, the wasp leads it back to her burrow. Once inside, she finally lays her egg on top of the cooperative cockroach, bites off its antennae in order to drink the roach's blood and replenish her energy, then exits the burrow, sealing it off with rocks and pebbles.
After a few days, the eggs hatch and the larvae slowly consume the insides of the roach until they form a cocoons and the roach is finally allowed to embrace the sweet relief of death. Eventually the adult wasp emerges from the cocoon/dead roach husk to begin its own life of surgical zombification.
Seriously, did you ever think you'd find yourself taking the roach's side in a situation?
For more unrelenting horror from the animal kingdom, check out The 5 Most Horrifying Bugs in the World and The 6 Deadliest Creatures (That Can Fit In Your Shoe).
And visit Cracked.com's Top Picks because we have a jar full sacculina we use to keep Brockway in check, but we'll use it on you too.