Dark Vegetable Caterpillar

DSC04978 Seen at Mt. Macedon in late May was an interesting fungi species,the Dark Vegetable Caterpillar Cordyceps gunnii. This species is a parasite of the living larva of certain moths. After the larva dies its entire body cavity, except the alimentary canal, becomes filled with the fungal mycelium, and the body cavity fills out to its former size and rigidity. After the mummification of the host, the fungus produces its long, stalk-like fruiting body. This generally follows the insect’s own burrow to the surface and its length varies according to the depth of the host below. The above ground fruiting-body of the one pictured was about 100mm tall with a width of 20mm. The host larva would have been from a large moth species that lives on the sap of the Silver Wattle Acacia dealbata.

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One response to “Dark Vegetable Caterpillar

  1. Interesting! I’ve not seen one of these.

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