Dead Bug Mystery

Dead Bug

I took this picture of a dead bug this evening and didn’t think much of it until I looked at it a little closer at my computer. This sort of thing seemed familiar to me. I thought I had recently read something about it, and I was able to find it when I looked at the Cornell Mushroom Blog. A recent entry on Furia ithacensis was in fact what I was thinking about. So the mystery for me at this point is whether or not this bug was killed by an entomophthoralean fungi, as seems likely based on the description in that entry.

I also took the following photograph which I suspect is a bug experiencing the same fate, but not as far along in the process. I noticed that it didn’t really seem too inclined to move, but I initially attributed that to me being careful. In hindsight, looking at the photo, it appears the the bug was actually just anchored down, though it has yet to burst.

Dead Bug

2 thoughts on “Dead Bug Mystery”

  1. Your bugs do look like victims of entomophthoralean fungi to me. The first one is distinctively held down to the leaf by a bunch of hyphae called rhizoids. And although the long hairs coming from the back of the abdomen aren’t necessarily our fungus, I can see that they have a salty, crystalline appearance–probably because some of the spores that were shot off from the abdomen got hung up on them. I’d agree that the fly in the second photo also looks entomophthoralean. If I squint I can imagine that the leaf under his butt is salted with spores… Sometimes knowing what the host insect is is enough to identify the fungus, but most of the time I’d like to see the fungal structures under a microscope to figure out what you’ve got. Nice finds!

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