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Like a plot from a horror film, there's a virus that brainwashes caterpillars, forces them to march up trees, then turns them to goo.
Now scientists at Penn State University have found the single gene that enables the virus to carry out its dark deeds.
The caterpillars would normally return to the ground to hide after feeding on leaves, but the baculovirus reprogrammes them to stay in the trees, melts them, then drips down among the remains to infect more of the creatures.
Researcher Kelli Hoover, writing in Science, said: 'When gypsy moth caterpillars are healthy and happy, they go up into the trees at night to feed on leaves, and then climb back down in the morning to hide from predators during the day.
'When they are infected, as they get sicker they stay up in the trees and die up there.'