Zombie beetle

Image of <i>Eryniopsis lampyridarum</i> (Thaxt.) Humber 1984


Chauliognathus pensylvanicus infected with an Entomopathogenic fungus. This beetle has been dead and clamped to a goldenrod stem in a ditch behind my office building for a couple of days. This one is for myriorama, who finds stuff like this all the time. I've only seen this phenomenon a few times previously, but it is likely pretty common. The story is that the fungus alters the behavior, causing the insect to crawl up and then clamp onto the stem, providing a nice, high place for spore dispersal--turning more beetles into zombies.Originally I thought this was Cordyceps, but that is likely to be incorrect. Doing some web searching, I see that a particular fungus, Eryniopsis (Entomophthora) lampyridarum, has been reported to attack these beetles in South Carolina:G. R. Carner, Entomophthora lampyridarum, a fungal pathogen of the soldier beetle, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus, Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, Volume 36, Issue 3, November 1980, Pages 394-398, ISSN 0022-2011, DOI: 10.1016/0022-2011(80)90044-0.And a more recent paper:A. G. Wheeler, Jr. "Violent Deaths" of Soldier Beetles (Coleoptera: Cantharidae) Revisited: New Records of the Fungal Pathogen Eryniopsis lampyridarum (Zygomycetes: Entomophthoraceae). The Coleopterists Bulletin Vol. 42, No. 3 (Sep., 1988), pp. 233-236. (JSTOR link)Crossing my fingers, I'll assign the fungus to that species (now Eryniopsis lampyridarum) for EOL.

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