I had never been terribly interested in fungi, until our recent visit to Ngome forest. One just couldn’t help falling in love with these little-known, little-appreciated ‘completers of the food chain’. Their beauty and variety was shocking.
Not sure why I’m posting fungi on this insect site. To share it, I guess, so someone else can go “WOW!”
Of course there were also plenty of insects . I was particularly intrigued to see a bugweed (Solanum mauritianum) apparently getting eaten by ladybird beetles. These horrible local invasive alien plants are normally in perfect condition, because they are so very unpalatable to our local mini-fauna. (Yes! Some ladybirds are herbivores. They are often furry, like these ones.)
Another very interesting sighting was a dead ant. Huh? Yes, an ant that had clamped its jaws tightly onto a twig and died there. A fungus seemed to be growing out of its head. This is a macabre story: the fungus produces brain chemicals that control the ant’s mind, forcing it to do exactly what this ant had gone and done: wander around like a zombie… clamp down and die… become fungus food (read more here).
April 23, 2018 at 11:53
Solanum mauritianum is only regarded as awful by people – the fruits are relished by all the fruit-eating birds in our garden………
May 24, 2019 at 07:47
Dear Paul, thank you for leaving a comment. You are right, some birds eat the seeds of the bugweed (in doing so, helping to spread it further). Please take a look at the blog “A positive natural future” (https://whatinsectareyou.com/2018/12/20/a-positive-natural-future/) and the full article it links to, and you’ll see at the end I responded to your question directly. I dearly hope you can be persuaded to replace the bugweeds in your garden with any of a wide range of beautiful local plants.