Yesterday I took a picture of a carpenter bee with some gooey stuff stuck to its face. The bee did not look well. It was moving slowly and trying very hard to dislodge the stuff which seemed to be keeping it from feeding properly. I looked online for what might have been wrong with the bee, and then I reached out to the one person I knew about who worked at the intersection of insects and fungi.
It is important to say I don’t really know Dr. Matt Kasson. I know of his work, but we’ve never met. I ran across one of his tweets a while back and started following him out of curiosity regarding his research of a fungus that kills cicadas. I found his description of the dead cicadas as “spore salt shakers” darkly humorous. And while I reserve Twitter as a space to learn about education, technology, and social justice, I figured throwing in a few insect-related accounts would only improve the experience.
So today, I tagged Dr. Kasson in a tweet and hoped he’d get back to me sometime in the next week. Within the hour I was having a conversation with three different highly qualified experts who responded and helped me out. We discussed the ailing carpenter bee, and as a thank you, I shared a picture of one of my latest fungal discoveries made during an exploration of the woods behind my house, a fungus called Trichoderma strictipile (image above). This led us in a new direction as they discussed what my picture showed.