• Researchers discovered two fungi species with a sinister habit
  • They devour infected flies "from within" while spreading the fungi spores
  • Researchers say the discovery could help in developing new medicines

Halloween may be over but nature still has a few tricks up its sleeve. Scientists have discovered two new fungi species in Denmark that show a rather "tricky" trait – they infect flies and eat them from within.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) recently discovered two fungal species – Strongwellsea tigrinae and Strongwellsea acerosa, in the Capital Region of Denmark that showed a habit of essentially eating flies alive.

According to a news release from UCPH, the fungi infect two fly species, the Coenosia tigrina and Coenosia testacea, and create a large hole in the hosts' abdomen. Once infected, the flies fly around for days, discharging the spores of the fungi from the hole in their abdomen to infect others, while the fungi devour them "from within."

After a few days, the infected flies will lie on their back, spasm and eventually die.

The spores that made it to other flies will then make their way to the abdomen, where the cycle will repeat again, the Guardian reported.

The researchers' work now adds new information on the genus Strongwellsea. The study, published in the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, suggests that there is "high number of species" in the genus but only five have so far been described.

What's more, as scary as the fungus' behavior sounds, it could actually lead to new medicines.

"We suspect therefore that these fungi may produce amphetamine-like substances which keep a fly's energy levels high up until the end," lead researcher Professor Jorgen Eilenberg of UCPH said in the news release. "At the same time, we have a theory that the fungi also produce substances which keep microorganisms away from the fly's fungal wound. We would definitely like to continue our research, as doing so has the potential to discover and later make use of these substances, perhaps in medicine."

As grotesque as the fungi habits may sound, it's not the first time that a fungi species has been observed following rather bizarre practices. In 2018, for instance, researchers from the University of California - Berkeley discovered a fungus species that infects fruit flies and essentially controls their minds, making them climb on a high area, spread their wings to expose their abdomen and shoot spores to infect other flies, all while eating the flies from the inside.

Pictured: Representative image of a fly. Annette Meyer/Pixabay