Observation 69603: Entomophthoraceae Nowak.

When: 2011-06-19

Collection location: La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA [Click for map]

Who: matthewfoltz

No specimen available

More information about the fungus is available from my previous observation of this species: http://mushroomobserver.org/44317?q=4tKQ

Species Lists



Proposed Names

60% (3)
Recognized by sight
63% (2)
Recognized by sight: on Muscidae or Anthomyiidae
Used references: M Hauser, CDFA

Please login to propose your own names and vote on existing names.

Eye3 = Observer’s choice
Eyes3 = Current consensus


Add Comment
Volk’s Fly
By: matthewfoltz
2013-12-12 03:28:14 CST (+0800)

I found this fly on a door at TomVolk’s house a few years ago. If someone is interested in doing some microscopy and getting a more definitive answer, I bet Tom might take a look to see if there is another fly available :-)

safe enough?
By: Kathie Hodge (fungal)
2013-12-12 01:23:49 CST (+0800)

I think it’s likely that it’s in the E. muscae group given the muscid host.

By: Byrain
2013-12-12 01:11:32 CST (+0800)

I could agree with Entomophthora muscae sensu lato, do you think its safe to assume its not in another genera in the Entomophthoraceae as the ones Danny listed? Also, I agree that these are pretty great fungi! :)

microfungi want microcharacters
By: Kathie Hodge (fungal)
2013-12-12 00:51:24 CST (+0800)

Isn’t this a great fungus? I adore it. I’d feel fine calling this one Entomophthora muscae sensu lato, how about that? “sensu lato” is fancy Latin for “in the broad sense,” and encompasses a few modern species concepts.

These entomophthoralean things are microfungi. Like I said in my blog post (cited by Danny), without seeing any microcharacters we often can’t be sure what we’ve got. I think assigning them names just gives a false feeling of accuracy.

It’s disappointing not to be able to put a name on something, but on the other hand, any time you see the words “sensu lato” you know there is a little mystery there, waiting to be solved. For me is the most exciting thing about mycology: it’s a mystery-rich pursuit.

“somewhat nsfw”
By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2013-12-11 16:17:21 CST (+0800)

el o el…

interesting paper. had no idea E. muscae was a species complex. more reason to tread lightly in the applying of species names.

M. domestica
By: Byrain
2013-12-11 16:00:35 CST (+0800)

I’m far from knowledgeable on flies and I’m not sure we can be certain here, but I think this is at least close to what I have been told to be Musca domestica at bugguide which is a common species in my house, see http://bugguide.net/node/view/728826 (Somewhat nsfw). E. muscae is a complex, I’m not sure how many of them can occur on M. domestica, here is a good article on them.


“Keller (1984), on the basis of nuclear numbers and sizes pointed
out that E. muscae was in fact a complex of species. The members of
the complex, referred to as E. muscae s.L, are: E. schizophorae Keller
& Wilding in Keller (1987) with 4-8 nuclei per conidium, E. scato-
phagae Giard (1888), amended by Steinkraus & Kramer (1988), with
15-18 nuclei, E. muscae with 15-20 nuclei, and E. syrphi Giard
(1888) with 19-22 nuclei. A recent study on the molecular biology of
the genus Entomophthora has supported the validity of E. schizo-
phorae and E. syrphi as species distinctly separated from E. muscae
(Jensen & Eilenberg, 1999).”

the one reference
By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2013-12-11 15:28:32 CST (+0800)

I hoped would clarify this has been of no help.

Appendix 2 of Parasites in Social Insects lists fungal, bacterial, viral and other infections/predators of social insects, thereby leaving out flies. taking great care to emphasize the incompleteness and uncertainty of the data in a written preface, it lists the “known” associations between predator and prey, with a subsection specifically for fungi.

possibly helpful for ants, bees, wasps and termites. not for flies.

two key questions, then:

1. is this M. domestica? how to be sure?

2. is E. muscae the only entomophthoralean fungus to occur on that species?

We have a probable host id.
By: Byrain
2013-12-11 15:13:02 CST (+0800)

Musca domestica.

By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2013-12-11 15:00:43 CST (+0800)

If you have a good hand lens, you’ll come to recognize their [entomophthoralean fungi’s] distinctive glassy or waxy appearance–more translucent than “normal” molds.

Recognizing these fungi is one thing; identifying them can be tricky. If you are a good entomologist, identifying the host will help in narrowing down the identification, because each of these species is pretty finicky about which insects it will kill. Furia ithacensis, for example, is known only from flies in the family Rhagionidae. Otherwise, you’ll need a microscope to look at spore shape, sporophore branching, rhizoids, and stuff. The spores in the photo are stained with a special dye called aceto-orcein (derived from lichens!), which stains the condensed chromatin in the nuclei red. This dye can help determine which of the five families of the Entomophthorales is home to your specimen, and help you count the numbers of nuclei per spore (family Entomophthoraceae, and one, in this case)."

Kathie makes the case here that even IDing to family requires specific knowledge of the host and/or microscopy. As far as I can tell, all the truly entomopathogenic entomophthoralean genera (five times fast) reside in Entomophthoraceae, but I could be very wrong.

I’ve assumed, perhaps hastily, that the genera I’ve listed (among others) may contain species whose host associations include “houseflies,” without ascertaining whether or not that is the case. Regardless of where the burden of proof lies, finding out if there are entomophthoralean housefly pathogens outside the genus Entomophthora will take either a good deal of digging through marginally available literature, consultation with an expert, or both.

I think we can confidently call this and similar obs Entomophthoraceae on account of the gestalt Kathie mentions in the Cornell blog post. Assigning any one of them to a particular genus/species absent both microscopy and host ID seems ambitious.

To put it briefly, I’ll be confident calling this — or any other “housefly” whose ID we can confirm — by a specific genus or species name if/when we can ensure that only that entomophthoralean species occurs on that insect. As long as the possibility of other entomophthoralean fungi inhabiting the same species of insect exists, we can’t really go on calling it by one name and not another, not without microscopic confirmation.

Does that make any sense?

Pandora & Furia
By: Byrain
2013-12-11 14:31:00 CST (+0800)

Both again seem to affect different groups of flies and other insects not to mention look different, see these.


I think we should think with Entomophthora unless someone can demonstrate another genus that looks like this and affects house flies, so far none of the names you provided seem to be such…

many possible genera
By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2013-12-11 14:23:22 CST (+0800)

though I will admit that I do not know the spectrum of potential hosts for all of them:

Erynia, Pandora, Furia, Empusa, Entomophthora, Entomophaga possibly others.

These are all pathogenic on small insects and possess similar macro features. Host specificity may rule out some more than others. I’ve voted to ere on the side of caution in the absence of microcharacters.

Erynia and Empusa
By: Byrain
2013-12-11 14:21:03 CST (+0800)

Erynia seems to affect aphids and different groups of flies where the pictures I am finding don’t really look like this, see. http://www.bioimages.org.uk/html/p9/p99640.php

Empusa leads me to which E. muscae which is the same thing as Entomophthora muscae. Are there any others still currently in Empusa I am missing?

The host here kind of looks like a ordinary house fly.

By: Byrain
2013-12-11 14:12:30 CST (+0800)

What other genera do you have in mind? You should provide more specific information with a “I would call it that” vote if its not immediately obvious.

Edit: I was forgetting your last comment…

By: Darvin DeShazer (darv)
2011-06-20 03:37:08 CST (+0800)

Cool fungus, wish there was more of it in the world! A fly killer….

sucks to be a fly…
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2011-06-20 03:30:36 CST (+0800)

in La Crosse, WI! ;)

Created: 2011-06-20 03:12:11 CST (+0800)
Last modified: 2013-12-11 14:11:31 CST (+0800)
Viewed: 323 times, last viewed: 2017-06-10 03:44:33 CST (+0800)
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