Beauveria bassiana colonizes insect hosts initially through a yeast phase, which is common in some artificial liquid cultures, but not reported on artificial solid media. We describe a yeast-like phase for B. bassiana isolate 447 (ATCC 20872) on MacConkey agar and its virulence toward Diatraea saccharalis and Tetranychus urticae. The yeast-like cells of B. bassiana developed by budding from germinating conidia after 24-h incubation. Cells were typically 5-10 microm and fungal colonies were initially circular and mucoid, but later were covered with mycelia and conidia. Ability to produce yeast-like cells on MacConkey medium was relatively common among different B. bassiana isolates, but growth rate and timing of yeast-like cell production also varied. Metarhizium anisopliae and Paecilomyces spp. isolates did not grow as yeast-like cells on MacConkey medium. Yeast-like cells of B. bassiana 447 were more virulent against D. saccharalis than conidia when 10(7)cells/ml were used. At 10(8)cells/ml, the estimated mean survival time was 5.4 days for the yeast suspension and 7.7 days for the conidial suspension, perhaps due to faster germination. The LC(50) was also lower for yeast than conidial suspensions. Yeast-like cells and conidia had similar virulence against T. urticae; the average mortalities with yeast-like cells and conidia were, respectively, 42.8 and 45.0%, with 10(7)cells/ml, and 77.8 and 74.4%, with 10(8)cells/ml. The estimated mean survival times were 3.6 and 3.9 for yeast and conidial suspensions, respectively. The bioassay results demonstrate the yeast-like structures produced on MacConkey agar are effective as inoculum for B. bassiana applications against arthropod pests, and possibly superior to conidia against some species. Obtaining well-defined yeast phase cultures of entomopathogenic hyphomycetes may be an important step in studies of the biology and nutrition, pathogenesis, and the genetic manipulation of these fungi.