Currently viewing the category: "attack of the fungus"
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Strange White Caterpillar from Oil City Pennsylvania
Hello Bugman!
I emailed you last week but just realized that you requested the location of the bugs found. I am resending this letter in hopes that you can help me identify the caterpillar we found in our backyard. First, I must say I love your website and check it regularly. Recently my fiance and I found this caterpillar (the first two pictures) on a small tree in our backyard in Oil City (Northeastern) Pennsylvania. There were 4 of them and I cannot seem to find it anywhere on your website or the rest of the Internet. I was hoping you could tell us what it is. The third picture I believe is the Gypsy Moth Caterpillar but just wanted to double check. Thank you for your help in advance. Keep up the great website!!! Thank you,
Shannon G.

Hi Shannon,
Your white caterpillar is, we believe, infected with Fungus that will probably kill it. It is difficult to determine the species of caterpillar from your photo. BugGuide has a big section on Fungus riddled Flies, but not one for caterpillars. In trying to research Fungus attacking Caterpillars, we found references to a fungus, Entomophaga maimaiga, that is host specific on Gypsy Moth Caterpillars, but it does not resemble the Fungus in the image you have provided. The Gypsy Moth Fungus, Entomophaga maimaiga, is an important biological control of this invasive species, and you can read more on the Country Gardener. The Cornell University Biological Control website has a photo of an infected Gypsy Moth Caterpillar. Your second caterpillar is a Gypsy Moth Caterpillar.

Correction: (07/29/2008) Strange White Caterpillar from Oil City Pennsylvania
This looks a lot like the “Butternut Wooly Worm” images on bugguide. Found them while trying to see if the fly/wasp I sent matches any of their sawflies.

Thanks for the correction Audrey. Seems someone on BugGuide also entertained the fungus idea. The Butternut Wooly Worm is actually a Sawfly, Eriocampa juglandis.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Do you know?
I was hoping you could help me identify this ‘thing’ I found wrapped around the end of one of our cedar tree branches. We live in Western Massachusetts and no one I have asked has any idea what it is…cocoon, chrysalis, disease, pest, nest, dead caterpillar? I’ve heard every guess but no one knows for sure. It’s just under 1" diameter in either direction and is the color of cinnamon. I tried searching your site but not knowing if it’s even a bug has me stumped as to where to look. Pictures below. Thanks!
Rebecca M.

Hi Rebecca,
What you have found is most interesting. It looks like a Gall caused by an insect, but it is actually Cedar Apple Rust, a Fungus. According to the Ohio State University Fact Sheet site we located: “There are a number of ‘cedar rust’ diseases in which the fungus completes its life cycle on two plant hosts; one in the cypress family and one in the rose family (the rosaceous host). 1. Cedar apple rust (pathogen: Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae). The fungus alternates between Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and mostly apple and crabapple.” Later the site indicates: “Diagnostic Symptoms Cedar apple rust: On junipers, tan to brownish round to kidney-shaped fungal galls are present in winter and early spring (Figure 2). With moist weather, gaudy bright orange masses of gelatinous spores develop from these galls, and galls swell to several times their original size (Figure 3). Spore masses are several inches in diameter, with a central core and radiating hornlike tendrils, and are highly visible during moist weather in mid-spring. On apple and crabapple, bright orange-yellow leaf spots develop on upper surfaces of leaves in late spring (Figure 1), followed by light colored, fringed cup-shaped structures on lower leaf surfaces several weeks later. Damage on junipers is generally minor and involves presence of the galls and twig dieback. On apples and crabapples, fruit infections and leaf drop also can occur. ”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Stumped two Universities so far with this amazing white spider…
February 20, 2007
Hello there:
So far two Universities have no idea what this amazing white spider is. It was found with many others in an old house my friend *was* considering buying in Easton, CT. ABOUT PHOTO: Subject’s photo was taken in Easton, CT- USA. Estimated size 2-4 inches. This photo has not been altered in any way except reduction of resolution. Oh, the spider was very much alive. Many of his brethren too. In fact, my friend could not sleep for many nights after observing all the crawling.

Hi Cary,
The reason we asked if the spider was alive is that this looks like it could be a fungus infection on one of the spiders in the Pholcus genus. Your further clarification tends to rule that out. We do not recognize your spider, nor have we ever seen a spider that resembles this. Sadly, your image does not have enough critical focus to reveal any details. We will try to search for information as well as check with some of our contributors. One of our readers wrote back to us: ” Oh gee, this is really ridiculous-looking. Sorry but no way is this thing alive, despite what Cary’s friend said. There is no real focus, so you can’t even be sure what you are looking at, but to me it looks either as you say, like a dead 2 inch daddy-long legs completely ‘bloomed out’ with a fungal growth, or perhaps more likely it is a molted exoskeleton hanging on an external wall which got coated with freezing condensation (sort of like frozen dew) in winter. I can well believe there were living daddy-long legs running around in the basement in this place, but they would have been normal color and normal appearance, not like this. “

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

unknown eggs? and spider
Hello, I came across what I think may be some insect eggs. They were bright red and attached to the underside of a fallen log.
Also, I came across this little spider in a clearing in the same patch of mixed woods in southeastern Georgia. Any ideas what either may be?

Hi Anthony,
The spider is an Araneus Orb Weaver, and we suspect the eggs might be some species of Moth. Moths often lay eggs in clusters that resemble this. The vast quantity has us baffled though, and we wouldn’t rule out an odd type of fungus. It is difficult to tell from a photograph.

Thanks for the info, I had collected some of those “eggs” in hopes of hatching them, I checked them again today; they had turned dark brown. I looked a little closer and saw tiny stalks so I lightly brushed them and they puffed. Odd fungus indeed.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

help with identifying this moth
Yes, this is a moth I think. Tentacles are protruding from and around its back. It rests peacefully in the coolness of the Tuskegee National Forest on one of the thousands of long leaf pines surrounding me. I notice it’s absolutely nothing I have ever witnessed before. Of course I need your help, please.
Thank you for your time.
Ryan Kennedy
Print Shop Staff
Alabama Education Association

Hi Ryan,
We really needed to ask Eric Eaton about this one. Here is his reply: “Whatever this WAS, it was attacked by some kind of fungus, and the fruiting bodies are the fireworks coming out of it. I’d post this to bugguide and see what others have to say on it. Eric” We are going to post this on BugGuide to see if we can get any additional enlightenment.

Akanthomyces Fungus
(11/12/2006) about the photos with the fungi growing on insects
Hello, What a great site!!!! I was looking at the photos under your fungus tab and was going to tell you what was killing the fly and the moth if you didn’t already know. The fly has been killed by some sort of fungus in the Entomothorales (sorry that I can’t be more specific than order on this one). However, the moth has been killed by a fungus in the genus Akanthomyces. I hope that this is able to add to your site.
Ryan Kepler

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination