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bugs

Hesperomyces-virescens-feature

Ladybug Fungi

They may be taking over the world, but they have problems too: They have an itch they can’t scratch. Their dead wear fur coats. They nuke their competitors with poisonous blood. Multicolored Asian ladybugs are host to three different fungi. They’re all bizarre and interesting, but if you are a ladybug, you will have a clear favorite.

Rear view of the salt shaker

Flying salt shakers of death

Poetry and dirt inspired Angie Macias to explore buzzy, hummy cicadas. And the fungi that live to eat them. They are butt-devouring species of the fungus Massospora– coming to your backyard this summer!

Rhizopus: bad hair day

Postal conks

The best gifts keep on giving. This artist’s conk (Ganoderma applanatum) came to me by post. It turned out to be quite literally full of surprises. Eleven unexpected organisms popped out of it: one other fungus, and ten fascinating beetles. Also, and this was really quite satisfying: when it arrived, I knew I had won the argument.

a fungus in amber

Paleomycology: Discovering the fungal contemporaries of dinosaurs

Fungi tend to be small, soft, and ephemeral — properties that don’t exactly help establish a strong presence in the fossil record. But they certainly have been around for a long time (perhaps 4 billion years?). Here we explore some of the fungi of the distant past, including some molds preserved perfectly in amber for tens of millions of years.

unsuspecting caterpillar

Entomophaga maimaiga – The caterpillar killer

Since we’d rather not let gypsy moth caterpillars eat the leaves off entire forests, we’re pretty happy about Entomophaga maimaiga, a fungus that attacks them. In this post we take a close-up, time lapse look at the devouring of a caterpillar by a fungus that is an effective agent of biological control.

Furia ithacensis

Furia ithacensis

Well now, everyone likes a dead fly, but I’m here to tell you that some dead flies are more spectacular than others. Like these gloriously dead snipe flies, exploded by a fungus that is named after my home town. If I were a birder, I’d call this find a “good bird,” and tick it off on my life list. Do you have a life list?

a dead fly

The Insect-Fungus War: Behavioral Fever

Fungi, heat, and height all figure into an insect phenomenon called behavioral fever.

spider fungus

A spider’s nightmare

I’m no fan of spiders, but I have to admire them when they are thoroughly dead and covered in fungus. Here are two fungusy spiders in glorious rotation. That’s right, I’m no fan of spiders, but I am definitely a fan of fungi.

About

Most people don't pay much attention to fungi, which include things like mushrooms, molds, yeasts, and mildews. Here at Cornell we think they're pretty fascinating. In fact, even the most disgusting foot diseases and moldy strawberries are dear to our hearts. We'd like to talk to you about fungi, so that like us, you too can tell gross stories at the dinner table. Afterwards, maybe you'll notice some things you would have overlooked before, and we think this could be good for the planet.

Kathie T. Hodge, Editor

Beneath Notice, our book of borescopic mycology.

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