It makes them EAT THEIR OWN BRAINS. And even worse….
It’s a bacterium. It preys on insects. And Scientific American makes me worry that one way or another, they’ll figure out a way to make us eat our own brains too:
As well as passing from females onto their offspring, Wolbachia can also be transmitted horizontally, that is between insects in the same generation. In its normal host the Wolbachia is not hugely damaging (apart from removing all males from the population) but when transmitted to a new species it causes various unpleasant nervous system complications, often leading to death. Clearly, the bacteria are more virulent when they encounter a new species.
The insects that are used to dealing with the presence of the bacteria have developed ways to contain the infection, or just tolerate it. New species however, tend to panic, particularly as the bacteria tend to congregate in the gonads (sex organs) and the central nervous system, which even insects understand are bad places to have bacteria.
When the Wolbachia get into a new species, the first response of the insect is to quickly and efficiently destroy any cells which have bacteria inside them.
Yeah. Destroy *any* cells.