As the larva develops inside the ant, it gradually moves into the head of the fire ant, secreting enzymes that dissolve the connecting tissues of the head and thorax.

This causes the fire ant’s head to fall off, thus appropriating the nickname “the decapitating fly.”

“As the larva is consuming the ant from the inside, the ant slowly loses its body functions,” said Paul Nester, a program specialist for Texas AgriLife Extension Service. “Thus you can say it is the living dead, aka zombie.”