Insects are susceptible to a variety of fungal diseases. These diseases can be caused by a wide range of fungi, and the symptoms can vary depending on the insect species affected. Generally, fungal diseases infect an insect’s exoskeleton, digestive system, respiratory system, or their internal organs. Insects infected with a fungal disease can have signs like discoloration of their cuticle, slow movement, or even death.
The most common type of fungal disease is Entomophthorales. This disease affects many insects, including honeybees, ants, beetles and caterpillars. Symptoms include white mold on the outside of an insect’s body. The fungus then penetrates into the insect’s body and begins to feed on their internal organs. This can lead to death in some cases.
Symptoms of Insect Fungal Disease
The most common symptom of fungal disease is white mold on the outside of the insect’s body. This can be accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- Discoloration of their cuticle
- Slow movement
- Eventual death
In some cases, an infection can cause deformities in an insect’s wings or legs. In rare cases, fungal spores can be spread from one insect to another, causing an outbreak of the disease.
Diagnosing Insect Fungal Disease
In order to diagnose an insect with a fungal disease, the symptoms must be observed. A qualified professional should inspect the affected insects and their environment for any signs of fungal growth or discoloration. If present, a sample can be taken from the affected insect and sent to a laboratory for further examination. In some cases, a blood test will be taken and used to confirm the presence of a fungal infection.
Stages of Insect Fungal Disease
Insects infected with a fungal disease will progress through several stages before death.
The first stage is the colonization stage, where fungi begin to grow on the insect’s cuticle and secrete toxins into their body.
The second stage is penetration, where fungi enter the insect’s body and spread to their internal organs.
In the final stage, the fungus begins to feed on the insect’s organs and can cause death.
Treating Insect Fungal Disease
Treating fungal disease depends on the severity and stage of infection. Generally, antibiotics or antifungal drugs will be used to treat mild infections. In more serious cases, the affected insect will need to be isolated from other insects and kept in a sterile environment until the infection is cleared up. In some cases, the infected insect might need to be euthanized.
Preventing Insect Fungal Disease
In order to prevent an insect from becoming infected with a fungal disease, it’s important to maintain a clean and healthy environment. Make sure the insect’s habitat is free of mold or other fungal growths. Make sure the insect is getting enough food and water. A weakened immune system can make them more susceptible to infection. Finally, inspect any new insects that are added to the enclosure for signs of infection before introducing them to the existing population.