Observation 142283: Ophiocordyceps sphecocephala (Klotzsch ex Berk.) G.H. Sung, J.M. Sung, Hywel-Jones & Spatafora

Description. Small yellow Head like structures protruding from the ground Making a right angle, Sometime solitary sometimes in pairs. Head only 5 mm X 3mm and Smaller. Stalk tread like, 3cm to 12 cm long yellow becoming orange then white, When dug up you will find the fungi protruding from the thorax of species Vespula maculifrons.
Smaller heads protrude from what appears to be a smaller, worker class. Those structures are some what small can be rounded and flattened or lobed. If found protruding from a larger female or male wasp they are usually in Pairs the heads are well formed into slightly oblong rounded fruiting bodies.

10 specimens have been found in slightly sloping areas of where soil builds up around the trunk of a tree or where hill sides meet flatter land on those slopes seems to be the final resting place., Host’s are buried 5cm to 10 cm under leaf litter. usually where the duff meets the soil. All host where found on there backs. The fruiting body protrudes from the center of there thorax,It may travel through the leaf litter some 10 cm until it find it way out then protrudes about 3 cm, usually making a right angle.

In The middle of June I Unfortunately discovered a nest of yellow Jackets by stepping on there burrow. I was only stung abut 4 times. The Cordyceps that I have been finding are all with in 30 yards of this nest. As of Today the Nest is vacant and there is no activity from it. I have been speculating if this fungus is the cause of there demise or is it, the fact it has been an unusual wet year had something to do with it.

Species Lists


a collection of 10 specimens found within 30 yards of a now defunct yellow Jackets nest
Close up of large female
Some structure from the fruiting head at 10 x
Spores and another cell structure that has a bit of motilaty.
cell wall where the stem meets the head.
a very eliptical group of cell. These are the ones that appear to be a bit moble moving in a distelled water solution, They appear to be coming form this long structure. like scales that are falling off.

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By: walt sturgeon (Mycowalt)
2013-08-18 09:35:39 PDT (-0700)

I have a contact with information and experience with this species. He does not want to share it on this site. Email me with your email address if you are interested.

This is my new favorite fungus among us
By: Eddee (eddeeee)
2013-08-16 19:19:59 PDT (-0700)

Walt Have you ever found this? They are growing quite prolific on my property, around the area where there was an abandoned yellow jackets nest. I have marked each one I have found, in relationship to that nest and they are with in 20 to 50 yards of it, but no where else on the property. I have left about 12 in the ground to see what they do as they mature. I was watching some of these and I saw some sort of a caterpillar walk over one. I was thinking perhaps a secondary host. It seem so strange since yellow jackets do not spend a lot of time on the ground. It would seem they would have to come in contact with the spores to be infected. So I have a hypothesis. Caterpillar or some sort ground insect walks over the fruiting head of the Ophiocordyseps. The yellow Jacket finds the caterpillar and brings it back to the hive infecting the rest of the population, or maybe the secondary host just walks up to the nest. Those Cordyceps have a way of controlling there victims to get there way. . Somewhat like Toxoplasmosis in cats and rats The Rat eats cat poop gets infected with the Coccida organism. The Toxoplasma affects the rats brain and makes it fall in love with a cat. Well Since the rat wants to be buds with the cat the cat has a meal and the life cycle of the toxoplasma organism is complete.
Do you know any Cordyceps experts ? or references that I might expand on this thought. I have noticed that the only other observation is from Europe. Ok Thanks for the Info

By: walt sturgeon (Mycowalt)
2013-08-16 17:12:13 PDT (-0700)

is the current genus here and in Europe. I suspect that there are multiple species using this name… As for how the bees get infected. I have been told that it the bad luck of spores hitting them. My own thinking is that the fungus grows in the soil, plants etc. but only fruits when it contacts an insect host.

Hi Walt
By: Eddee (eddeeee)
2013-08-16 11:23:20 PDT (-0700)

I saw that C. Sphecocephala have been deprecated and the new name is O.sphecocehala. Is this true for the European Counter part? http://mushroomobserver.org/28079?q=1Qupn . I have compared the two species and this one looks a bit different having a more shorter stalk and a rounder head.
Also Know of any reference that would explain the biology (life Cycle ) of this
Fungi? Im very perplexed as to how a yellow Jacket get infected by this. Im thinking a secondary host like a Caterpillar but I don’t know. The Reason I say this is because I have seen yellow Jackets carrying a host of insects especally spiders and caterpillars to there hive. Then the young are affected and they do what they do. The ones I find almost look as if they went into a hibernation mode and of course never woke up. I know the femalse overwinter in leaf litter but I have found small worker class yellow jackets and they are in the same postion. I have found antiher 25 of them. OK thanks Walt

Wow! That’s awesome.
By: Jon Shaffer (watchcat)
2013-08-16 08:01:24 PDT (-0700)

Created: 2013-08-10 20:51:48 PDT (-0700)
Last modified: 2013-11-23 21:32:38 PST (-0800)
Viewed: 182 times, last viewed: 2017-06-16 07:20:36 PDT (-0700)
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