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Entomopathogenics

This hawk moth (most likely a Violet Gliding Hawk Moth (Ambulyx liturata, Sphingidae)) has been parasitized by an Akanthomyces fungus (probably Akanthomyces pistillariiformis), a Cordyceps anamorph peculiar to moths.

After killing the moth, the fungus then totally engulfs and embalms the corpse producing this macabre sight. (An entomopathogenic fungus is a fungus that can act as a parasite of insects and kills or seriously disables them.)

Pu’er, Yunnan, China.

by Sinobug (itchydogimages) on Flickr. See more Chinese insects and spiders on my Flickr site HERE

Cordyceps fungi is a common ingredient in Chinese herbal
medicines. In general, mushrooms wouldn’t seem like an obscure
ingredient, however, this particular mushroom grows from the bodies of
insects. If a spore lands on an insect, it can infect it. The fungus
then grows within the body, using the internal organs as a food source.
Eventually, the fungus rips out of the insect, distributing more spores.