fly-killing fungi

Stephen R. Berlant Berlant at
Mon Mar 18 12:29:56 EST 1996

In article <960302141716_158266488 at>,
   Rosieola at wrote:
>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.

Having noticed this post, I couldn't help but recall RG Wasson's 
extensive analysis (in Russia, Mushrooms and History) of tales that the A. 
muscaria was originally called the fly-agaric, presumably because it was used 
in Medieval Europe to attract and kill flies. 

To the contrary, it always seemed to me that "fly-agaric" must have been 
derived from our word "agar" for a growth medium"; because, the mushrooms 
odor, resembling that of rotting flesh, caused flies to lay their eggs on it, 
as evidenced by popular reports that maggots appear on the mushroom soon after 
it starts to decay.

I was wondering if anybody had any recent info that supported or refute either 
of these positions.

My thanks in advance.

Stephen R. Berlant 

I was, thus, wondering wh

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