fly-killing fungi

Rosieola at Rosieola at
Sat Mar 2 14:19:08 EST 1996

>        I just fielded a phone call from a representative of the Timber Wolf
>Preservation Foundation.  Apparently the wolves at this facility are greatly
>bothered by flies during summertime, and as a consequence they scratch their
>ears until they are in a very bad shape.  Someone there heard or thought
>they heard of a fungus that can kill flies, and did I know anything about

Here's an article re-printed in the January, 1996 issue of the Mycena News,
the newsletter of the Mycological Society of San Francisco.

Rose Flaherty
Editor, Mycena News


The following article appeared in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 5/19/95, the
Colorado Mycological Society’s  Spores Illustrated, Summer, 1995, and the
Connecticut Valley Mycological Society’s Spore Print, Fall, 1995.

Scientists at Cornell University in New York say they have developed a strain
of fungus that is effective at killing common flies that torment dairy and
poultry producers, yet is safe to humans.

The fungus, Beauveria bassiana, is common and found in soil. It first was
observed attacking silk worms in the 1860’s and once was a cause of major
losses in the silk industry. Cornell entomologists, however, began studying
the fungus more closely in the late 1980’s after federal legislation was
adopted that tightened restrictions on pesticides used to control flies.

The researchers screened several strains of fungus until in 1993, they
settled on what they considered the most virulent one against flies. They
then tested various media that would contain the fungus and lure flies to
feed on the fly bait.

Flies can pick up the fungus spore simply by walking on treated material.
They spread it over their bodies inadvertently by grooming. Tests showed the
fungus killed every fly that picked up the spores within five to seven days.

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