T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Entomophthora muscae (Fly Death Fungus)

Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Zygomycota
Order: Entomophthorales
Family: Entomophthoraceae
Genus: Entomophthora
Species: E. muscae
Binomial name: Entomophthora muscae
Synonyms: E. schizophorae, Empusa muscae
Common name: Fly Death Fungus

Entomophthora muscae is a species of pathogenic fungus found in most temperate regions of the world. It causes a fatal disease in flies. It can cause epizootic outbreaks of disease in houseflies and it has been investigated as a potential biological control agent. 

Soon after a fly dies from infection with this pathogenic fungus, large primary conidia (spore) are produced at the apex of a conidiophore (filament) which emerge from the flies intersegmental membranes. When the spores are mature they are forcibly ejected and may fall onto flies resting nearby. If no hosts are available for infection, a smaller secondary conidium may develop. The conidia germinate within a few hours and a germ tube begins to penetrate the insect's cuticle. Once this reaches the haemocoel (body cavity), the protoplast flows through the tube and into the fly's haemolymph (a fluid equivalent to blood). The mycelium (a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae) of the fungus may grow into an area of the brain that controls the behaviour of the fly, forcing it to land on a surface and crawl upwards. The hyphae gradually grow through the whole of the body, digesting the guts, and the fly dies in about five to seven days. When it is critically ill, it tends to crawl to a high point, straighten its hind legs and open its wings, a behaviour that ensures that the fungal spores are dispersed as widely as possible. Some three hours later, conidiophores start to develop and a new shower of conidia is initiated.

In houses, the corpses of flies are frequently seen attached to windows or window frames, a place where other flies may easily become infected. In the open, they may be seen attached to the underneath of leaves, on fences and walls, in agricultural buildings and poultry houses.

The host range
includes the housefly, Musca domestica, this infection has been observed in adult flies in the families Calliphoridae, Culicidae Drosophilidae, Muscidae, Sarcophagidae, Scathophagidae, Syrphidae and Tachinidae.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the above text: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/  

The photo below is of an Infected fly that is characterised by a distended abdomen, legs spread and wings out-stretched (see photograph below). The intersegmental membranes of the swollen abdomen give the cadaver a characteristic striped pattern. The labellum may be lowered and the cadaver may be attached to the surface by the mouthparts.

A housefly Musca domestica on a window,  A halo of primary conidia surrounds the cadaver and is particularly evident on the window's surface. The release of primary conidia from the cadaver is termed a "conidial shower." Disease transmission depends on direct contact with these conidia (spores).


Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: