"Imagine if there were a virus that could get inside you and dial up your libido, so that you all of a sudden start mating more (more frequently and with more partners), so that the virus — the tricky, tricky, clever, little virus — could transmit itself through your lovemaking to somebody else, then somebody else, and somebody else after that.
So writes Lulu Miller on the website of NPR.
The story adds: "Shelley Adamo and her team at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, have just discovered a virus that seems to have an effect kind of like that … in crickets. It's called iridovirus."
Miller notes: "Sure enough, the males [infected with the virus] were increasing their mating behavior. It took them only three minutes, after a female entered the arena, to start singing their courtship song, as compared with the 10 minutes it usually takes. And the infected females — who usually decrease mating behavior when sick with a virus — were just as raring to go as they usually are."
The article reports: "The virus (which is highly contagious) seems to need the crickets to mate. Without the mating, the virus can't hop from creature to creature. Interestingly, it isn't actually transmitted through the insemination — instead, the virus seems to pass from one cricket's antennae into the other's mouth."
The virus turns the cricket's guts blue in color, and the infected crickets usually die within a few weeks.
Miller writes: "When I asked Adamo if a virus like this could ever make its way up the food chain and affect the mating behavior of humans, she was clear that no evidence of that has been shown.
"Though one thing that struck her, she told me, in reading about sexually transmitted infections, is that so many of them tend to be asymptomatic for years. She can't help but wonder, she says, if that could be evidence of the virus (already, quietly) manipulating us. That is, could it be interfering in some way — preventing us from sending the usual signals of pain, swelling, headache, fever, loss of libido that usually occur when we're sick? Instead, even as we're infected, could it be the virus that's keeping us feeling healthy, up and at 'em and winking at the curious stranger on the street?"
By Jiminy, crickets need to watch out what they wish for…