Prepare yourselves, Outsiders. The zombie crab apocalypse is upon us. At this very moment, millions of creepy crustaceans are migrating through the Bay of Pigs. And residents have never seen anything like it.
“There was very little traffic, and very little tourism,” parking lot security guard Angel Iraola told The Sun. “There are more crabs now than there have been in many years.”
Scientists believe that the historic number of crabs is thanks to two years of COVID lockdowns. Usually, thousands of the black, yellow, and red crawlers are killed off while attempting to cross busy streets. But with so many people staying home during the pandemic, the animals had safer routes to the beach, where they go each spring.
“It is very likely that the crab populations have recovered,” Reinaldo Santana Aguilar, a scientist with Cuba’s environment ministry, shared with the New York Post. “And that is why there is such a strong migration now.”
Just recently, the creatures went through their mating season in the forest areas that sit behind the beaches of the island. And as they do each spring, they are now marching across the road during dusk and down to lay their eggs in the ocean water. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae will live as plankton until they’re big enough to move inland.
Parasitic Flies Occupy the Zombie Crabs’ Bodies
The crustaceans are dubbed zombie crabs because they live as hosts to two species of flies. The insects lay eggs around the crabs’ eyes that later hatch and move into their bodies where they live and feed.
As the larvae mature, they migrate into the crabs’ gills and then mouths. And once they’re fully grown, the flies will drop to the ground and live out the rest of their lives on land. Though, the parasites tend to stay inside the crab as long as they can.
Zombie Crabs usually live between 5 to 10 years, so long as they make it through their annual migrations.
While the creatures are more than plentiful in Cuba, people can also find them in most of the other Caribbean countries. And though they sound terrifying, they’re harmless. The tiny animals are omnivorous scavengers that mainly eat plants.
And the locals aren’t terribly bothered by the population explosion that is taking over. To deal with the swarms, most people simply shoe the crabs away from the street as they try to make their way around the island.
“We use the mop to scare off the crabs so as not to kill them,” Giordanis Duran said. “They are animals.”