Entomophthora muscae is a fungus that uses flies as a tool for its spore dispersal. The fungal spores are ingested by the fly and the fungus rapidly grows inside the fly's abdomen. Eventually, the pink fungus breaks through the structure of the abdomen and becomes visible for a couple of days before it breaks down and the spores are released.
This is the shot of the hoverfly from a top-down perspective:
|Hoverfly killed by the fungus Entomophthora muscae|
Two aspects of this photograph are of critical importance:
1) the hoverfly is at the very top of the plant (Ribwort Plantain)
2) the wings of the hoverfly are fully extended in an unusual forward-facing configuration
Both of these features will allow maximum airflow over the fungal mass and, more importantly, both are caused by the fungus. Before the fungus kills the fly, it causes it to move to the highest available point and then open its wings to the fullest extent. Then it kills it.
This ability of the fungus to control the fly's movement and configuration for its own benefit is astonishing enough, but it works with different flies from different families, so the fungus has found a way to control the movement of a whole range of different fly species.
Another feature of the configuration control is shown in this side view:
|Side view of the fungal mass|
The legs have also been fully straightened: yet another part of the configuration that maximises spore dispersal: truly amazing.
The fungal mass will break down and release spores over the next couple of days, leaving just a skeletal husk of the hoverfly on the plant.
It's not only nectaring insects that benefit from the Angelica. This is a shot of the miner Phytomyza angelicastri on the leaves:
|Leaf-mining fly Phytomyza angelicastri on Angelica|
The Rosy Rustic moth pupates underground until August, and this pristine specimen was resting on a low-level Dock leaf, so I rather suspect it had just emerged.
|Rosy Rustic moth|