Photo of the Week By Mark Fernley

2nd March 2015

This alien like creature is a Wandering spider hosting a fungus found in the Amazon. This specific fungus commonly known as the Cordyceps fungus is an airborne genus of sac fungi that includes 400 different species of entomopathogenic fungi. All have specific individual host species. All Cordyceps species are parasitic mainly on insects and other arthropods. Others can be parasitic on other fungi.

When the Cordyceps fungus attacks the host, the fungus invades the brain and causes the host to act in an unusual way and become disorientated. Its infected brain directs the insect upwards and forces the host to clamp onto a leaf, vine or a branch high off the ground and fuses with the surface killing off the insect. Over time, small white shoots start to sprout out from the body and eventually takes over the entire carcass. The host becomes a so called sustainable root on which the fungi grows.

Story written by Chris Kirkby