Fungus attacking museum specimens

Riaan Stals, Snuitkewer vrehrs at PLANT5.AGRIC.ZA
Wed May 27 15:25:31 CDT 1998

Dear colleagues

I recently sent some well-curated scarab beetles (Trichiinae) to an
expert for identification, and to my delight this exercise yielded
seven new species.

To my horror four specimens returned covered with a fungus, actively
growing. One of the four affected specimens is the holotype of one of
the new species. My mycologist colleagues upstairs confirmed that the
fungus is a species of _Aspergillus_.

I need advice on how to get rid of this scourge. The relevant books
on my shelf are dumb about this matter. I recall that someone
somewhere told me that one can submerge an afflicted specimen in
benzene (that will apparently kill the fungus) and then remove the
mycelium from the surface of the insect with a fine brush. Will this
actually work? Will benzene actually kill a hyphomycete? How will
benzene affect the colour patterns on the exoskeleton?

My mycologist friends suggested fumigation with propylene oxide,
which will definitely kill the fungus. I have decided to do that.
Still the mycelium will have to be removed after killing the fungus.

And I have another serious worry: these fungi have already produced
fruiting bodies, and have probably already spewed their spores all
over. Should I expect a fungal epidemic on my beautiful beetles?

And: does Vapona (chlordivos) have any effect on hyphomycetous fungi?

Perhaps I should have known the answers, but I do not. Thank you in


South African National Collection of Insects
Pretoria, South Africa

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