Cordyceps militaris (NL: Rupsendoder / EN: Scarlet Caterpillar Club / DE: Puppen-Kernkeule / FR: Cordyceps militaire) The genus Cordyceps consists of clublike parasites that attack underground puffballs or insects. The puffball-parasitizing species are cool enough, but the bug parasites are astounding. They erupt from insects, bringing to mind the infamous scene in Alien in which John Hurt has a very bad meal. Cordyceps militaris is the best-known and most frequently collected bug-killing Cordyceps. The victim for Cordyceps militaris is a pupa or larva (usually of a butterfly or moth). Its mycelium colonizes the living insect and mummifies it, keeping it alive just long enough to generate the biomass it needs to produce the mushroom--a "spore factory" that allows the Cordyceps to reproduce. The fruit body grows up to 7cm high, is cylindrical or club-shaped and has a bright orange-red color. The slightly swollen fertile head has a finely roughened surface and tapers into a smooth, paler, wavy stem.
Image: Schoten (BE) – 19/10/2012
© Johan Dierckx
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