Polistes stigma: Both living and deceased paper wasps are decomposed by fungi

Here I'd like to share some macro shots with the Fascinating Insects community.

This is a tropical paper wasp that I captured using my phone camera in March. I believe this is Polistes stigma, a species of paper wasp that belongs to the family Vespidae. P. stigma, unlike the yellow jacket (Vespula sp.), prefers to live alone, building small nests on wooden twigs. However, it does occasionally cohabit in small colonies. P. stigma, like other Vespidae species, is an insect pollinator that feeds on floral nectar.











In another location, I found the carcass of a paper wasp. This is incredible, as the carcass is covered in thorns of some sort. But, based on the yeast that was found under its jaws and abdomen, I suspect it was orange pinwheel mushrooms (Marasmius bulliardii). Is this the case for all wasp carcasses? That, I believe, is not all. Perhaps it's just a coincidence.




CameraXiaomi Poco X3 NFC Smartphone
LensExternal macro lens
CategoryMacro Photography
ProcessedMobile Lightroom
LocationLhokseumawe, Sumatra, Indonesia

But, based on the yeast that was found under its jaws and abdomen, I suspect it was orange pinwheel mushrooms

Very interesting. I think it must be a species of the genus Ophiocordyceps, maybe Ophiocordyceps humbertii.

I appreciate your explanation, Jaki. That broadens my understanding of wasp-decomposing microbes. 🙂

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What a brilliant example of a fungus that takes over the brain of its host while it is still alive, forcing it to climb up somewhere and then bite down hard. Only then do the fruiting bodies erupt through the exoskeleton and release their spores to the next generation of unsuspecting insects.