Arthropod-related Fungi Observations

May I request some advice on posting (and receiving IDs) related to the fungi that use arthropods as their host organisms…I’m thinking I have a handful of these but I never know how to identify them to attract the ideal IDers. Oftentimes IDers overlook them if they are identified by the host species, but placing them in the Kingdom Fungi including lichens doesn’t usually catch the eye of experts in those types of fungi.

In this case I knew the host organism (so I identified it as Apheloria virginiensis), thankfully someone came along who informed me about the fungus and so I was later able to duplicate the observation and identify it properly using that individual’s prior identification (of the fungus).

However, in these cases, I am not 100% certain these caterpillars died of a fungus nor am I confident in the identification of them! So, I posted in the Butterflies and Moths, but the “insect destroyer” fungus IDers will never see them…

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/60907461
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/60907456

And this one, while I know it is a salt marsh moth, I feel confident it suffered from a fungal infection but since I don’t know what the fungus is…I don’t feel very confident placing it in the Fungi including lichens Kingdom (thus frustrating the fungus people with an image of a caterpillar).

This is an example of an organism I cannot identify in any way, but I am pretty certain the fungus is Cordyceps. As for the host?!?

This is another one I literally guessed at; I hate guessing…so I guess that’s why I am asking for some advice on this issue. I don’t want to place an organism in a category where it will frustrate expert IDers, but I also don’t want it to get lost in a Kingdom or Order where it just sits unidentified.

Note: I am not a scientist. So, more than likely I will not know the species of host organism or fungi. In most cases I can identify at least the Kingdom or Order. Essentially, I’m asking for advice on how to post such observations so the experts in arthropod-related fungi are most likely to see them.

2 Likes

Years ago, I emailed to Daniel Winkler (mushroaming.com) with a question about Cordyceps. He was so nice knowledgeable and wrote back a very detailed answer quite quickly. Here is his blog on Cordyceps:

http://mushroaming.com/cordyceps-blog

The photos are ~amazing~

2 Likes

If you have two organisms interacting it’s best to post two observation - one for each organism. Identifying the host might help with the fungus ID so it’s nice to crosslink the observations. In such cases I usually add the observation fields “associated observation” and “host” (for the fungus obs.) or “Interaction->Parasitised by” (for the arthropod obs.). I also explain the interaction in the notes section of the observations. These should make the observations more visible to interested people.

Have in mind that many fungi develop on dead animals post mortem so they are not necessarily the cause of death. Also, fungi are generally difficult to ID. Try to capture as many details as possible

3 Likes

There is a project https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/parasitic-fungi-of-north-america dealing with this. They want to know the species of fungus though. But you could ask what requirements are needed so you can upload your photos to the project.

6 Likes

There is a project on iNat called Entomopathogenic Fungi. https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/entomopathogenic-fungi

Joining it and adding your observations to the project would probably increase your observations’ visibility with experts that could help with identification. And if nothing else, you could look for similar observations made by others to help you identify yours (since they would be collected together in this project).

There’s also a Cordyceps project that might be helpful. https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/north-american-cordyceps-sensu-lato

Hope these suggestions help and happy observing!

5 Likes

Besides the groups people recommended, what I would probably do is select “Fungi including Lichens”, include a note in the description that I’m trying to identify the parasitic fungus, and then tag known identifiers in the comments so they’ll see it in their notifications.

1 Like

I think you could definitely make 2 observations for each parasitized insect - one for the insect ID and one for the fungus, and make a note of what you are identifying in the picture. In the notes or comments you can link to the description of the other one. Adding them to projects is a good way to increase the likelihood of an identifier seeing it, like others have said. Try https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/fundis-fungal-diversity-survey as well.

1 Like

Thank you to everyone! I really appreciate all of your suggestions and…pointing me in the direction of so many interesting Projects. I think I am going to go back through my obs and make certain I’ve duplicated each so I may post one for the host organism and one for the fungus…and then, try to add them to the appropriate projects for further help with identification. Again…thank you!!

1 Like

Just don’t try to add your hosts to the fungi projects or your fungi to the arthropod projects and you should be good.

2 Likes