4 November 2018

Cats notwithstanding, I’m generally well-disposed to most species. The more the merrier, as far as I’m concerned. Call it a hunch, but it seems to me biodiversity has got to be a good thing. Life’s rich tapestry, and all that. But I think I might have to draw the line at anthropophilic fungi of the genus Trichophyton.

On top of having a dodgy ankle at the moment, I’m currently going through one of my periodic bouts of athlete’s foot. Yes, that’s right: me… athlete!

The fungi that cause athlete’s foot serve no useful purpose, as far as I can tell. Not that species need to be useful to humans (or anything else) to justify their existence. No, I get that: I’m more than happy to live and let live; to let any species be, provided that species has the common decency to return the favour. Which is why I have a big problem with whichever species of Trichophyton is (or are) currently devouring the flesh between the fourth toe and pinky of my left foot.

As if devouring small bits of me weren’t inconsiderate enough, the tricksy bastards are making me ITCH! It’s almost unbearable refraining from scratching between my toes at times—even though I know scratching is exactly what the damn Trichophyton want. What easier way for fungi to spread their evil spores than by getting their hapless victims to relocate them while trying to relieve an itch? Parasites can be damn cunning at times.

As a general rule, I wouldn’t want to wipe any species off the face of the planet. Who knows, this year’s cheesy, flesh-eating fungus might be next year’s replacement for penicillin. But, seriously, if you need cast-iron proof the natural world wasn’t designed by a benevolent creator, look no further than anthropophilic Trichophyton.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to apply a liberal dose of fungicide.

Richard Carter

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. He is currently working on a book about looking at the world through Darwin’s eyes.Website · Newsletter · Mastodon · Facebook

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