Sunday, 1 March 2009

Hartstongue fern spider fungus

I was investigating Hartstongue Fern for micromoth activity today, and I was moderately successful, finding some inconclusive micromoth damage to some spore sori (the moth larva had left the scene, so no id was possible).

I did find, however, the following item growing between two sori:

Instinct tells me it's fungal. I then examined it more closely and found that the white fungus is surrounding what looks like the corpse of a spider:

I brought it back to the study, so I'll get it under magnification tomorrow. Early research shows that there are some species of Entomophthora that attack spiders, so I'll check that line of reasoning, too.

(The spider is the pink bit with the black dots.)

The fungus is about 6 mm. across.


Gill said...

Wow! That's quite something - look forward to the micro shots and more details tomorrow. At first sight the thing it reminded me of was a sea anemone!

Gill said...

Did you get any further on this? Also any idea why the fungus has those "fingers"?

I wonder if the spider is a hartstongue specialist?

davidm said...

There are a few such fungi killing spiders. Torrubiella arachnophila var. leiopus, Gibellula pulchra and Gibellula aranearum with the latter being the most common. However there are no Irish records for any of these species in the FRDBI (although there may be records not in the database). It is worth drying it and sending it into Kew

Stuart said...


I've been looking at Gibellula sp., but I don't have the skill to do the microscopy that's required. I'll send it off to Kew and see what they say.

No Irish records exist either way.


fungi use a number of devices to maximise the spore-producing area. 'Fingers' is as good a mechanism as any.