Cordyceps infected orthopteran?

I think this might have been a cordyceps-killed cricket or katydid.  Cordyceps is an ascomycete fungus that parasitizes insects and alters their behavior, causing them to climb to a high point, latch on and die.  At this point, the fungus produces fruiting bodies that rain new spores down on ground dwelling insect prey.  A great YouTube video is here.

Orthoptera cordyceps fungus - 20130714 - 2

Orthoptera cordyceps fungus - 20130714 - 4

Café at Finca Cántaros

San Vito, the closest town to Las Cruces, was settled primarily by Italian coffee growers.  Now, there is much less coffee production, but there are still a good number of farms.  At Finca Cántaros, an American-owned plot and tourist attraction between Las Cruces and San Vito, there is a small plot where coffee and a few other agricultural plants are grown.  I realized I didn’t have any photographs of coffee trees… so here goes.

Nest predation in the Wilson Botanical Garden

Wendy Kuntz, a NAPIRE faculty mentor from University of Hawaii-Kapi’olani Community College, is advising a couple of students in projects about bird behavior and nest predation.  Here, Shaina, one of Wendy’s students, is placing 40 artificial nests within the Wilson Botanical Garden at Las Cruces to assess nest predation rates at both high nest locations (~2 m) and low nest locations (~1 m).  Shaina monitors loss of quail eggs in the nests over the course of a week.  I “helped” set a few of the nests up one day… but I ended up dropping the cooler full of quail eggs and smashed about 8 of them. I will not likely be asked to help again…