white spider with round balls on its joints looks frozen almost
March 30, 2010
We have these in our bulked.. we rarely open it .. and this is what we found … they are alive and crawling, seems to cower from the light.. If you need more pictures I am sure I can try and brave the spiders and take some more..
Bourne, Ma

Cellar Spider with Fungus Infection

Dear Pam,
Numerous times in the past we have received similar images, and we have maintained that the creatures in the photos were dead and being consumed by fungus.  Readers continue to write to us insisting that the spiders are alive.  Your spider is the first that actually does look alive, and we can only surmise that it will soon succumb to this fungus infection.  We are linking to a similar photo on BugGuide of a Cellar Spider in the family Pholcidae that was infected with fungus.  Your spider is also a Cellar Spider.  It may be Pholcus phalangioides, the Longbodied Cellar Spider, a common household species.
These Cellar Spiders appear to be especially prone to fungus infections, as do many flies. Since it is the final day of the month, we need to select a Bug of the Month for April to sit at the top of our homepage for thirty days.  Your letter and photo get that honor for April.

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28 Responses to Bug of the Month April 2010: Cellar Spider with Fungus

  1. We have been reposting an entry if a change is made to it. I think we are going to stop doing that though. BTW, hey – we miss you!

  2. suziethaller says:

    i have OOODLES of these white spiders in my basement – very eerie looking – but all dead – never seen a live one yet. they appear over the summer and by the time i go down to start the boiler in the fall, that’s what they look like.

  3. beaner1993 says:

    ive found two of them are the dangerous

  4. greg69mcgraw says:

    wow ive got a ton of these things in my basement and have been wondering what the freak was going on

    • bugman says:

      Though we maintain that these fungus riddled Cellar Spiders are dead, we continue to receive reports from people who insist they are still alive.

      • Lindsay says:

        I believe they are still alive, we seen traces of them and there all dried out. They are all over my basement and I want them gone!!!!

  5. Craig Gibson says:

    Has anyone thought that these spiders may be suffering from Cordycept fungus infection? Look up “zombie ants” on YouTube. BBC did a special on them. They are amazon ants that get infected with a Cordycept fungus. They then move to areas under nervous system control of the fungus itself. They die and sprout fungus that infects other ants. They highlight other variations of bugs that get the same fungus. They mention that the fungus attack only one species.
    I am going to gather some of these up and put them in a jar with some of the nasty spiders in my yard and see what happens to them.
    This would coincide with the reports that some are alive. I have THOUSANDS in my basement. I counted 34 of them alone in a 1’x1’x1′ web area.

  6. Karen Spencer says:

    We found many of these in the basement of a house we’re looking to buy. Many of them are HUGE. Most look inanimate but a few were moving around. We also saw several smaller spiders that were also white and knobby kneed. If this is a fungal infection, would infect hatchlings as well?

    I grew up on a farm and we had cellar spiders all over our Michigan basement. I’ve never seen anything like these in my life. I don’t quite buy that it’s a fungus infection that’s consuming all these spiders. While looking in the basement, I also saw your typical cellar spiders as well. They were skittering around and completely fine.

  7. Sílvia D says:

    I also recently found a spider that looks like this in a Palace basement. The spider was also alive, but I had never seen any other like it. So it’s definitely a spider suffering from fungus?
    I don’t know how to send you the picture though.

    Thank you for the information. 🙂

  8. orbweaver says:

    In my opinion it does not look alive, and if it is its only just. The top half portion of this spider looks alive and legs look gripping, but.. the bottom half’s legs are not sitting right, they are too angled to be supporting it, with the interest at the possibility of them being affected by cordycept Fungus I doubt that Fungus could thrive without its natural unique eco-system although there are millions of Fungus spores Unknown and registered like TB and cancer. Therefore undoubtedly mutations and new diseases are afflicting nature, part to do with GM food production and chemical farming.

  9. joeday says:

    I live in Windsor Ontario and my husband and I just saw a bunch of those spiders dead in a web under our house in the crawl space. I’m surprised I’ve never seen them before since I’ve always been interested in bugs. Thought I would be able to identify what kind it was by checking the internet! That sucks!

  10. Kaitlyn Warnken says:


    I have seen them in my hous’s bacement and the craw space. I have never seen them before and they looked frozen.

    I can’t find a website to inform me about them, but Geez they give me the goose bumps just thinking about them. My questions are:

    -do they bite?
    -are their bites venomous?
    -suggestions & recommendations.

    • bugman says:

      We maintain that these spiders are dead, hence they do not bite. While living, they do have venom, but they are not considered to be a dangerous species. Our recommendation is that you not worry about the dead, fungus infested spiders in your basement and simply clear them away if needed.

      • Darci says:

        They definitely arent dead. We have some that have laid eggs, and the sacks look the same. They may have a short life span, but we have at least 15 stages of really alive ones.
        Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

  11. curiousquebec says:

    I have been in more old basements and crumbling houses than I can count. It wasn’t till a year ago that I started seeing these supposedly fungus covered spiders. One thing I found especially curious about some of the specimens was the appearance of crab claw looking appendages on the end of each leg. I wonder if that is just another symptom of the fungus or is this something different.

  12. Andrea LaBelle-Warden says:

    Found these in the basement stair way in the house I’m going to occupy 11/16/14 & have been educating myself with my own research on the web tonight.
    These are certainly cellar spiders shich is the only spider I feel comfortable with due to its amazing ability to prey on any other spider including the most venomous ones and not harm humans with its bite due to fangs being to small ,with what is known as a fungal infection.
    The only ? I have is wether or not what ever is causing the fungal infection in these spiders, anything to do with a possible future health issues with my small children, husband or myself due to condition of the home?
    Meaning would we get a lung infection or any other infection ourselves due to the fungal strain that is killing these spiders!
    So far I haven’t found any answe to that!

    • bugman says:

      We are not medical specialists and we prefer not to speculate on the possibility of interspecies transference of fungal infections.

    • Cpl says:

      I am looking for this info too. If you happen to find anything, please post it here so I can find out too. We found tons of these today in the crawl space today under our new house. It is an older house, but it is well kept under the floor. I’m just worried that this fungus may hurt us too.

      • karen says:

        Lived in a house that had these spiders. Lived 5 years there, but we did clear out the spiders first thing, but all were dead …. never got sick, if that is any comfort to you.

  13. Jessi says:

    Need to know if there poisonous my husband is working and like a basement area and stalling late installation and he says there’s tons of them spiders down there are they poisonous

  14. Mike says:

    I just found hundreds under my house. Some were living. Most were dead

  15. Christine says:

    I just found 2 in my shed. Both are alive! Freaked me right out! If you look closely they appear nearly fuzzy. I have seen many spiders but never anything like this.

  16. Jack says:

    Found hundreds of these under a modern mobile home while trying to repair plumbing. Also in the mix was nearly a hundred curled up spiders in web/cocoons stuck to bottom of subfloor/insulate. When area disturbed 10-15 Brown/brown-gray spiders emerged. Squish 2 and 5 more emerge. We were ran out by maybe 300 under there.. Was like a dead spider lair being protected by hundreds of living ones. INSANE and having trouble indetifying species. Very aggresive and formed army running us off, incredible and disturbing…?

  17. Lewis Gordon says:

    I have seen spiders like this just now in my basement & last year my mom’s. Bothe were alive. Both basements are very damp from moisture seeping through the mortar around the stone foundation. I took a pic of mine, I could add it but don’t see how.

  18. Julia says:

    I never actually saw these in our cellar, but when I first heard of them, I freaked out and had nightmares for what felt like years. It’s good, I never witnessed them with my own two eyes..

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