You may be relieved to learn that today is the last of our Parasitic Wild Facts. I know you will be disappointed to see an end of these weird little worms and crustaceans that mess with their hosts. Today’s parasite is just as interesting and unique as the rest. We are going to learn about the Green-Banded Broodsac which, much like the Liver Fluke we learned about last week, likes to use snails as their intermediate host or middle-man if you will. Everyone seems to be out to get those poor little snails. They are going to develop a complex.
Occasionally an Amber Snail will have giant extended eye stalks that seem to have green, moving lateral stripes. As you may have guessed this is a result of our friendly little Green-Banded Broodsac parasites. The journey of this parasite begins as eggs in the droppings of birds (again, assuming the journey starts with the eggs). The clueless snail thinks he has just struck gold and begins to feed on the bird droppings. Naturally, the parasite then begins to hatch inside of the snail and infects their main digestive gland. While in this gland the parasite will change into something called cercaries and will begin to produce sporocytes which are simply long tubes composed of hundreds of these cercaries. These sporocytes will extend into the snails tentacles and will begin to pulsate. So why do these parasites go through all of this trouble? Generally in nature bright green, pulsating movement is not necessarily the best camouflage. That’s right my friends this parasite is actually trying to attract the attention of a bird. As they should the bird will see this snail sticking out like a sore thumb and swoop down to eat. It sort of reminds me of an alien calling for their mother ship. Once the parasite is in the birds digestive tract they will change from cercaries to adults, lay eggs and the whole process starts over again. I still find it absolutely incredible how manipulative parasites can be.
I hope you enjoyed our unique theme of Wild Facts. We will be back to normal broadcasting tomorrow. Have a great day!