Submitted by AJ Cann on Tue, 11/06/2024 - 15:21

Entomophthora muscae

Keep your eyes open for fungus-infected zombie flies - there are a lot of them about at the moment. More...

Entomophthora muscae is a fungus which infects a wide range of different flies. The interesting part is what happens after that. Outbreaks of infection usually peak in the spring and autumn and are timed to coincide with periods of cool and humid weather (which, you may have noticed, we've had rather a lot of). Flies which come into contact with the spores of the fungus become infected and the fungus spreads throughout the body of the fly (but does not kill it - not yet). The mycelium of the fungus grows into parts of the brain that control the behaviour of the fly, forcing it to land on vegetation and crawl upwards to a high spot. The hyphae then grow throughout the whole of the body, digesting it, and the fly dies in about five to seven days. Fruiting bodies develop on the outside of the dead fly and the high position allows the spores to spread widely. It gets worse! Males flies are highly attracted to infected dead female flies - zombie necrophilia. If you spot any of these fuzzy-looking dead flies you'll know what has happened, so please send us your records. And in case you were wondering, the fungus is completely harmless to organisms other than flies.