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INVERTEBRATE MEDICINE, Second Edition BLOG

NAVC Amazon Expedition Day #4

Grasshopper Fungus “Planter.” Fungal Spores Of The Genus Cordyceps Infect An Insect Host, Kill It (Sometimes Mid Stride), And Then Use Its Body As Nutritional Support For Growth And Survival.
Tuesday
June 14, 2011

I awoke early and worked on this travel journal and my talks. Our official knock-on-door wakeup call was at 6:00 and we started breakfast at 6:30. By 7:00 we were meeting Paul and Wilson at the canoes to begin our morning adventure. Jocelyn and John didn’t join us for the morning hike was just Johanna and Randon with us for the nearly 4 hour boating and walking trek through the jungle and along Amazon Creek. We had a wonderful time, seeing many amazing things. Paul’s eloquent description of strangler fig natural history would captivate any audience; he should really record this! His knowledge, expressions, and passionate enunciation were worth the entire walk! One of the more amazing finds was a "Grasshopper Fungus Planter.” Fungal spores of the genus Cordyceps infect an insect host, kill it (sometimes mid stride), and then use its body as nutritional support for growth. We saw another example, with a different fungal morphology, later in the trip.

We returned to the Lodge about 11:30, and after some time to rest a bit, enjoyed our 1:00 lunch before attending two very interesting lectures by Carol. At 4:00 we met our guides again, this time with Jocelyn and John on board, and canoed to across the lake to the El Anden trail (which we walked in on). We quickly hiked nearly to the Napo, before taking a side dirt trail, that carried us a couple of miles through the jungle in the vicinity of the river. Along the way we learned more about termites and even stopped to sample some. Randon, Paul, and I ate a few of the long-nosed ones that don’t bite—-except with their aspirin-like taste. Hmmmm….We eventually tracked back to the El Anden, and it was dark by the time we reached our canoe. We were back to the Lodge about 7:00 PM, in time to freshen up a bit before our delicious buffet dinner. After dinner I gave a short lecture on invertebrate zoology and then joined 16 others (divided in two guided groups) for a 1-hour night hike close to the lodge.
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