Fungal infections are a common health concern that affect many people worldwide. Occurring both externally on the skin and internally within the body, these infections can range from mild rashes to severe complications. Fungi are naturally present in our environment, living in soil, on plants, and even on our skin. They can multiply and cause infections when the environment changes in a way that favors fungal growth.
For example, the yeast called Candida, which lives in our mouth, throat, gut, and vagina, can sometimes multiply and lead to candidiasis. Fungal infections can also affect individuals who are hospitalized, particularly those in intensive care units, due to their exposed wounds or weakened immune systems.
Understanding fungal infections and their various types is crucial for early recognition of symptoms and prevention of serious health issues. By staying informed, you can better protect your health and well-being from the impact of these widespread infections.
Understanding Fungus and Fungal Infections
Types of Fungi
Fungi are a diverse group of organisms, including mold, yeast, and mushrooms. They are present in the environment, including soil, plants, and air. Some common types of fungi that cause infections include:
Causes of Fungal Infections
Fungal infections occur when fungi invade the human body and cause illness. Factors that contribute to infections include:
- Weakened immune system
- Prolonged use of antibiotics
- Exposure to infected animals or contaminated environment
- Poor hygiene
For example, ringworm is a common fungal infection that affects both humans and animals, and people can contract it through contact with infected animals or the environment.
Differences Between Fungi, Bacteria, and Viruses
These three types of microorganisms differ in many aspects:
|Antiviral drugs or vaccines
|E. coli, Streptococcus
Fungal infections can result in various conditions, from mild skin infections to life-threatening systemic infections. In contrast, bacterial infections often lead to illnesses like strep throat or urinary tract infections, and viruses cause diseases such as the flu or COVID-19.
Pros and cons of antifungal treatment:
- Effective against fungal infections
- Can help prevent complications
- Side effects such as nausea or dizziness in some cases
- Possible development of antifungal resistance
In conclusion, understanding the differences between fungi, bacteria, and viruses can help you seek appropriate treatment when facing an infection. Moreover, awareness about the causes and types of fungal infections can prevent them from occurring or escalating into more severe conditions.
Common Fungal Infections and Symptoms
Skin infections caused by fungi are rather common. Some examples include:
- Ringworm (Tinea corporis): Circular, red, raised rashes on the skin.
- Jock itch (Tinea cruris): Itchy, red rash in the groin area.
- Athlete’s foot (Tinea pedis): Itching, scaling, and redness between the toes.
Fungal skin infections are often caused by dermatophytes, a type of fungus that feeds on keratin in the skin.
Nail infections can affect both fingernails and toenails. One common infection is:
- Onychomycosis: Symptoms include thickening, discoloration, and brittleness of the nails.
Dermatophytes, yeast, and molds can cause nail infections.
Some fungal infections can affect the lungs, such as:
- Histoplasmosis: Flu-like symptoms, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
- Valley fever (Coccidioidomycosis): Fever, cough, and chest pain.
- Blastomycosis: Flu-like symptoms, chest pain, and weight loss.
- Aspergillosis: Cough, fever, and chest pain.
- Pneumocystis pneumonia: Shortness of breath, cough, and fever.
These fungal infections can be more severe in people with weakened immune systems.
Some fungi can cause infections in the bloodstream. Examples include:
- Candidiasis: Caused by Candida albicans or Candida auris, symptoms can vary depending on the body part affected, such as oral thrush, diaper rash, or vaginal yeast infection.
- Mucormycosis: A rare, severe infection causing fever, facial swelling, and pain.
Bloodstream fungal infections can lead to complications including meningitis.
|Rashes, itching, redness
|Thickening, discoloration, brittleness
|Cough, fever, chest pain, shortness of breath
|Varies depending on body part affected, fever, swelling
Keep in mind that early diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent complications from fungal infections.
Diagnosing and Treating Fungal Infections
Diagnosing fungal infections typically involves laboratory testing. Examples of common techniques include:
- Microscopy: Direct examination of body samples under a microscope.
- Culture: Growing the collected sample in a lab to identify the specific fungus.
Fungi can infect various body areas, such as sinuses, internal organs, and even the brain. Accurate diagnosis helps ensure proper treatment.
Antifungal medicines are designed to treat fungal infections, as antibiotics are ineffective against fungi. There are different types of antifungal drugs, targeting various fungal infections. Some common antifungal drugs include:
- Topical antifungals: For skin, nail, and other surface infections.
- Oral antifungals: For more invasive infections.
- Intravenous antifungals: For severe infections, like pneumonia or brain infection.
It is crucial to consult a healthcare provider before starting antifungal treatments.
|Creams, ointments, and shampoos
|Easy to apply, localized
|May take longer to work
|Tablets and capsules, like Fluconazole
|Systemic treatment, fast-acting
|Potential side effects
|IV formulations, like Amphotericin B
|Potent, immediate delivery
|Requires medical supervision, side effects
Apart from antifungal medicines, some alternative remedies may provide relief from fungal infections. Note, however, that one should always discuss these options with a healthcare provider. Examples include:
- Tea tree oil: May help with skin and nail fungus infections.
- Probiotics: Helpful in maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria and fungi in the body.
To conclude, diagnosis and treatment of fungal infections are crucial for the overall wellbeing of individuals. Remember to consult a healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options, including antifungal medicines and alternative remedies.
Risk Factors and Complications
Weakened Immune System
People with a weakened immune system are more susceptible to fungal infections. Some examples of conditions that can weaken the immune system:
- Diabetes: Poorly managed diabetes can decrease the immune system’s efficiency.
- HIV: This infection directly affects the immune system, making it harder to fight off infections.
- Cancer treatment: Chemo and radiotherapy can have long-lasting impacts on immune functions.
A healthy immune system is crucial to prevent and control fungal infections.
Medical Treatments and Medications
Some medical treatments and medications can increase the risk of fungal infections, including:
- Steroids: Long-term use of corticosteroids may increase vulnerability to infections.
- Cancer treatment: Chemotherapy can weaken the immune system and create chances for fungal infections.
- Antibiotics: Overuse may lead to disruptions in the body’s natural balance, promoting fungal growth.
It is essential to balance the need for these medications with potential risks.
Lifestyle and Environmental Factors
Several lifestyle and environmental factors can contribute to fungal infections:
- Moist and humid environments: Fungi thrive in warm and damp areas, increasing the risk of skin and nail infections.
- Poor hygiene: Infrequent grooming and sanitation can contribute to fungal growth on the skin.
A few preventative measures include:
- Keep your skin clean and dry
- Wear breathable materials
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
By recognizing risk factors and knowing how to minimize exposure, you can help protect yourself from fungal infections.
Preventing and Controlling Fungal Infections
- Maintaining personal hygiene is essential in preventing fungal infections.
- Regularly wash hands, shower, and wash clothes to minimize contact with fungi.
For example, wearing moisture-wicking socks and breathable shoes can help prevent athlete’s foot.
Environmental Safety Measures
- Keep living spaces dry and clean.
- Avoid exposure to potentially contaminated environments, especially for those with weak immune systems.
For instance, farming or gardening activities can expose individuals to soil-dwelling fungi like histoplasmosis.
- Hospitals and nursing homes should follow strict infection prevention protocols.
- Regularly disinfect and sanitize shared spaces such as patient rooms and operating rooms.
For example, Aspergillus species can cause opportunistic infections in immunocompromised patients.
- Implement fungal screening and isolation measures for high-risk patients (e.g., HIV/AIDS patients).
- Monitor patients receiving immunosuppressive medications, such as corticosteroids or TNF inhibitors.
Comparison of fungal infection prevention measures:
|Personal effort required
|May not cover all possible contaminants
|Demands strict protocols and monitoring
The CDC recommends early testing for fungal infections, which helps reduce unnecessary antibiotic use and allows for proper antifungal treatment.
Remember, it’s crucial to be proactive in preventing and controlling fungal infections to minimize complications and potential mortality rates.
Drug-Resistant Fungus and Emerging Threats
Causes of Drug Resistance
Drug-resistant fungi are becoming increasingly common in healthcare settings and the environment. Overuse of antifungal medications in both clinical and agricultural fields contributes to this resistance. For instance, Candida auris is a multidrug-resistant fungus causing serious health threats worldwide.
Some challenges that arise from drug-resistant fungi include:
- Limited understanding of drug class-specific resistance mechanisms in emerging Candida species.
- Difficulty in treating infections caused by multidrug-resistant fungi.
- Coexistence with other harmful microorganisms, such as molds and viruses.
As detailed in a PubMed study, fungi from the environment contaminated with antifungal-resistant agents are increasingly being identified in clinical settings.
Addressing these challenges requires various approaches:
- Establishment of antifungal stewardship programs: Implementing such programs in clinical and agricultural fields can help monitor and regulate the use of antifungal drugs, preventing further resistance development.
- Development of new antifungal drugs: Researching and producing new drugs that can target drug-resistant fungi is crucial to combat the emerging threat.
- Well-funded research: Continuous investment in research to understand the mechanisms behind antifungal resistance will facilitate improvements in treatment options.
In conclusion, tackling drug-resistant fungi is essential to ensure public health safety. It involves a multifaceted approach incorporating responsible antifungal use, research, and development of new medications.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Bug of the Month April 2010: Cellar Spider with Fungus
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..
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.
Letter 2 – Pink Bubblegum Fungus from KwaZulu-Natal
Subject: Bright pink eggs?
February 16, 2017 5:35 pm
Can the small bright pink bubbles be an egg of some kind. They appeared in my garden overnight. They were found above the soil. They appear to have areflectors tough but soft exterior with bright pink liquid centre. Comparable to a paintball bullet but small in size.
In our opinion, this looks like fungus and not eggs. We found this similar FlickR image and a link to this Slime Mold posting on the Field Guide to the Fungi of New England. This FlickR image identifies the Slime Mold as Lycogales epidendrum. Based on iSpot, this Slime Mold, also called Pink Bubblegum Fungus, is found in South Africa.
Thank you so much for your help and clarification.
What an excellent response time and service.
Letter 3 – Maybe Moth Eggs or Fungus
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?
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.
Letter 4 – Slime Mold
Subject: insect eggs?
Geographic location of the bug: King County, Washington
Time: 07:04 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: These are growing on the side of 5-gallon plastic pots – any idea? Thank you!
How you want your letter signed: nicholas
Because we just identified another example of Slime Mold from Oregon, this was a very easy identification for us. According to the Agriculture and Natural Resources University of California site: “Slime molds, classified in the group called Myxomycetes, are primitive fungi that feed on dead or decaying organic matter and have elaborate life cycles. The mature fruiting bodies of slime molds are quite diverse and can appear as sheets, mounds, crusts, blobs, and even eggs or structures of insects.” Smug Mug has numerous similar looking images.
Letter 5 – Probably Slime Mold
Subject: Huge possible moth egg cluster
Geographic location of the bug: Portland, Oregon
Time: 09:17 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: At first I thought this 4-tine garden cultivator had rusted solid from being left outdoors, but upon closer inspection I realized it was entirely covered in dark orange eggs! I think they might be moth eggs. No eggs were present on the wooden handle.
How you want your letter signed: Pam
Thanks for sending in this fascinating mystery. While these red “things” do seem to resemble insect eggs, we have our doubts because of the varying size of the individual “eggs.” We would expect much more regularity in the size of eggs. Here is a somewhat similar looking image of Slime Mold that we found online and Dave’s Blog has a similar image. We also found Slime Mole images that look similar on FlickR and on the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources site. We are inclined to identify them as Slime Mold.
Oh wow! Thank you so much, I would never have considered a mold, I have never seen anything like it before!
Also, Thank you so much for your blog, I have been using it to identify random “bugs” that I have found for over 10 years, starting when I was just a teenager. It has been an invaluable resource for me.
Letter 6 – Unknown Cave Insects, probably Moths, attacked by Fungus
cave moth metamorphosis
Location: Orcas Island, Washington
August 4, 2010 8:02 pm
I’m dying to know something about this moth. I can’t find anybody who’s ever seen anything like it. Please help!
It is difficult to ascertain if these insects are actually Moths, but that is a likely place to start. They are not, however, undergoing metamorphosis. They have been attacked by entomopathogenic fungi, and you may see numerous additional examples of this phenomenon on BugGuide. Flies and spiders seem to be especially prone to fungus attack, but other insects and arthropods may also be afflicted.
Thank you. There are over a dozen other moths in the mine shaft in various stages of attack. There are some that have died and fallen to the ground as well as a couple in what must be an early stage. Anyway, I appreciate your solving our little mystery.
Letter 7 – Growth in Dart Frog Vivarium might be Fungus
Subject: I think these are eggs….
Geographic location of the bu: Ontario Canada
Time: 05:37 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hello, I have a vivarium for Poison Dart Frogs and found some small white nodules growing under a piece of wood. My hope is that this is some sort of fungus or mold. But my concern is that these are the eggs of some bug that could do harm to my frogs or their eggs.
The piece of wood was harvested many years ago from a forest in Ontario. I included a picture of the wood with suspicious object, as well as a picture of my cute frog!
How you want your letter signed: Jason Kemp
These do not appear to be eggs, and we believe your suspicion that they might be fungus or mold is probably correct. Friends of ours in the Los Angeles area formerly bred Poison Dart Frogs. They had several pairs that bred in bromeliads, but alas, the vivariums were discovered by invasive Argentine Ants that killed the frogs.
Letter 8 – Bird Nest Fungus
Subject: odd growth at base of tree
July 30, 2012 10:48 pm
I’ve noticed strange small round (pea-sized) white ”cells”, attached to each other in flat ”communities”. They are growing/collecting at the base of a ornamental white crab apple tree (only 2 years old). They are scatterd atop the mulch. Our average daytime temps have been 98-105 degrees for all of July. This area gets watered every other day for about an hour. The leaves of the tree don’t let a lot of water fall down onto the area where these are growing. Some ”cells” look like they have dried up.
Signature: Tobi’s Mom
Dear Tobi’s Mom,
This phenomenon is not insect related. This is a cluster of Birds Nest Fungus. See Wayne’s World for an explanation.
Letter 9 – Bird’s Nest Fungus, NOT Eggs
Subject: What’s that bug eggs
Location: Side of house Michigan
October 29, 2016 11:59 am
I found some bugs egg so what’s that bug
These are NOT eggs. You have a healthy colony of Bird’s Nest Fungus, Cyathus olla, and you can read more about Bird’s Nest Fungus on Wayne’s Word where it states it is “a tiny cup-shaped fungus containing minute flattened spheres resembling eggs in a bird’s nest.” According to Gardening Know How: “The fungus doesn’t harm any living plants or organisms and assist in the important cycle of soil renewal. For this reason, getting rid of bird’s nest fungus is not necessary for the health of your garden. However, if the sticky fruiting bodies adhere to siding or other items, they can be difficult to remove. In this case, bird’s nest fungus control should consist of repelling tactics.”
Letter 10 – Butternut Wooly Worm and Gypsy Moth Caterpillar
Strange White Caterpillar from Oil City Pennsylvania
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,
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.
Letter 11 – Cedar Apple Rust: Fungus not Insect Gall
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!
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. ”
Letter 12 – Countdown 17 more postings to the 20,000 Mark: Fungus we suppose
Subject: What is this
Location: Cleburne, Tx (north central , Tx
March 29, 2015 7:42 pm
This showed up on a plant in my kitchen. I am in Cleburne,tx. It has been there about a week. It is attached at the top and bottom.
Signature: Bekah White
We do not believe this phenomena is insect related. Our best guess is that it is some type of fungus.
Letter 13 – Fungus Attack
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.
Print Shop Staff
Alabama Education Association
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.
(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.
Letter 14 – Fungus Attack
Subject: What is this bug?
Geographic location of the bug: Southern Ohio -Cantwell Cliffs, Fall
Time: 01:38 PM EDT
Hi, I came across this strange insect yesterday while hiking in the forest in southern Ohio. I’ve never seen anything like this insect before and I was wondering if anyone could identify it because I am so curious.
How you want your letter signed: Thanks, Alex
We are not certain what it was when it was alive, but it appears to have succumbed to a Fungus Attack.
Letter 15 – Growth found on Basket
Subject: Pretty sure this is a bug egg…?
February 25, 2016 5:05 pm
I live near Seattle. For Christmas, we received a wicker picnic basket, and because because it was winter, we left the basket on the carpet in a room we don’t typically use. The room doesn’t receive much sunlight and typically is a little cooler than the rest of house, since it is a daylight basement.
A few weeks ago I decided to clean it up and wash the utensils that come with the basket, when I found these little white spheres in multiple spots in the basket. In addition, when I picked up the basket I saw the same white spheres sitting in clumps on the carpet, which I’ve photographed (and since vacuumed).
I took the basket, did a quick wipe and set it on a chair in the dining room. Within a week or two, I started seeing more of those same dots on the chair. Any ideas what they are? I think they are bugs, but haven’t seen any evidence of any bugs. I presume I should probably throw the basket away…
Signature: some guy
Dear some guy,
Despite the high resolution of your image, we don’t quite know what we are looking at, but we do not believe it to be insect related. Our first impulse is to suspect this might be some type of fungus. Damp conditions in Seattle could cause fungus to grow in some unlikely spots. Moving the basket from the room to the chair would transfer the spores and cause a fungus to grow there as well. Perhaps one of our readers will have a better suggestion.
Letter 16 – Mushroom from Texas
Subject: Strange mushroom like growths in my lawn… bug nests?
Location: Plano, Texas
December 10, 2012 6:06 pm
Can anyone help me identify this?? We have a couple of these in our front lawn. They’re about the size and shape of an average mushroom and they are about as fragile as mushrooms, but on the inside they are made of porous brown water resistant dirt. (I shot one with the hose and it burst into dust, but didn’t become mud!) I’m not sure if it’s a plant. I thought it might be a bug nest of some kind, but I’ve never seen any bugs come in or out of them. What is it??? What should I do with it??
Signature: ~ Dave
This is a Mushroom. It may have been filled with spores. If you have never seen these Mushrooms before and you had some recent landscaping, you might have introduced the spores in dirt or mulch.
Letter 17 – Mysterious Thing on Tree
Subject: Nest on dead pin oak tree
Location: New Jersey, USA
April 12, 2017 3:06 am
I found this nest last night, April 11, 2017, on the north side of a dead pin Oak tree in my yard. It is about the size of my fist and appears to have something inside of the white outer coating /skin of the nest. What is it?
Because of its size, we suspect this might be a Fungus and not a nest. We will attempt to research this more. This image on New Hampshire Garden Solutions looks similar.
Letter 18 – Possibly Fungus
Subject: Egg cases
Geographic location of the bug: Northwestern Connecticut
Time: 05:55 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Found these holding three logs together in my woodpile today, 3.10.19. Not sure if it’s fungal or insecticidal. The woodpile is seasoned and covered. It’s been that way for about 2 years now. Ever seen it?
How you want your letter signed: Paul Hanlon
We do not think this is insect related. It looks to us like a Fungus.
Letter 19 – Probably Fungus
Subject: Cocoon or Fugus?
Location: Port Saint Lucie, FL 34953
September 28, 2013 11:51 am
This is growing on a dead Queen Palm in my yard in Port Saint Lucie, FL. It looks like a large cluster of bug cocoons but I’m not sure…I could be some kind of fungus. I hope you know what it is.
Signature: Penny Oliver
Our money is on a fungus. Perhaps one of our readers will be able to supply additional details.
Letter 20 – Unknown Spider with Mushrooms
Subject: Woodland spider identification help
Location: Woods, in rock crevice, Andover, MA
November 29, 2012 7:58 pm
I know you are really busy during the holidays, but I thought I would send the email and hope you catch this post. I was photographing mushrooms and inadvertently took a photo of this beautiful spider. I was hoping you could tell me what it is. I thought it was a type of wolf spider but the markings didn’t fit.
Thank you and Happy Holidays.
Thank you for your kind holiday greeting. The eye pattern of spiders (See bugGuide) is one of the best means of classifying and identifying them, but alas, your photo does not show the spider’s face. Nonetheless, we think this is a gorgeous photo and we are posting it. Perhaps one of our readers can tell us “What’s That Spider?”
Letter 21 – Unknown Thing is Bird’s Nest Fungus
Subject: bug or seed pod?
Geographic location of the bug: Mill Creek, WA
Time: 09:28 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hello,
I was moving pots around on my deck and found several pods (?) like this in the angle where the deck meets the house. This was the largest but still isn’t very big (the USB connector is provided for scale). They required some effort to remove. This one even took some paint from the house.
Any ideas what this could be? I’ve used various image search engines but keep getting bowls of nuts, berries, and peas. Now I’m hungry! 😉
Thanks for your help,
How you want your letter signed: PJ
We do not recognize this thing, but if faced with the choice of seed pod or egg case, we believe this is the latter. It appears to be spun from silk, so that could mean a Spider or even an Orthopteran. The eggs, if that is what they are, appear more Orthopteran to us but the case appears more like the egg case of a Spider. Perhaps one of our readers will have a better idea. So sorry your web search made you hungry.
Thanks to everyone who wrote in that this is a fruiting body of the Bird’s Nest Fungus.
Thank you for the quick response! After I sent my ID request to you, I kept searching but switched over to fungi which proved more fruitful and definitely killed my appetite.
Letter 22 – Mysterious Fly Deaths
Location: Nova Scotia
November 8, 2010 3:19 pm
My friend snapped this photo of slow-moving flies in clusters on a tomato plant on an August, ”fairly humid” day in Canada (I didn’t know Canada had warmth or humidity). They must be Lucilia (seracata?), but what are they doing?
Signature: Mel the Bug Chaser
We are familiar with single Flies being overcome by a fungus infestation (see BugGuide), but this group cemetery is a bit of a mystery that alas, we cannot immediately research as we have already spent far too much time at the computer this morning and we must attend to a few things before leaving home to teach California college students. Perhaps there will be a comment or two on this posting when we return.
Eric Eaton Concurs
I’m betting it is still fungus-related, but the bottom line is I have no idea. Maybe the person took images a few hours (or a day or two) later, and then the fungal spores would have been visible?
Letter 23 – Fungus Ridden Flies
Subject: Fly or parasite
Geographic location of the bug: Mechanicsburg, pa
Time: 04:31 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I have found several of these flies on my pepper plants. I am unable to find any information about them. They seem to attach themselves on the leaves with almost a web like thing and than die. Or something. Not really sure.
How you want your letter signed: Courtney Kerr
Flies and Parasites are not mutually exclusive as there are many parasitoid Flies, including Tachinid Flies. These are Flies, and they have been infested with a fungus infection. Here is a similar looking BugGuide image, and your Flies also appear to be Blow Flies. Many creatures, both plant and animal, can get fungus infections and BugGuide has an entire section devoted to Fungus Ridden Flies.
Letter 24 – Mystery Insects in Ohio are probably Midges with a Fungus Infection, not Golden Backed Snipe Flies
Subject: Morphing Pods
Location: John Bryan State Park – Yellow Springs, OH
June 7, 2015 9:06 am
I live in Ohio and was walking through the woods on May 17th. We were down by the creek and on the over hanging rocks we found these strange pods. Some looked like they could be scale bugs but as we examined more we could see the cycle unfold. The pale off white dripping pods eventually turned into so sort of flying insect. Could you shed any light on what sort of creatures they could be?
Signature: Curious Naturalist
Dear Curious Naturalist,
We wish you had better quality images. We do not know what is going on here, but it appears there are several different species of insects along with what you are calling “Morphing Pods”, and we have not been able to find anything similar looking online. The larger white bodies insects with dark markings and wings do not look familiar to us, but hopefully one of our readers will be able to provide some information. Can you provide any additional information regarding the size of the things in question?
I am sorry about the quality I only had my phone on my at the time. They were no bigger than a small fingernail. It was almost as if they were globs sprouting wings, then eyes and so on. At first I thought it was the early life cycle of another insect I had seen but I am an amateur and can not tell if they are similar enough. here is what I thought they MIGHT turn into. Thank you so much for taking the time to help me with this mystery.
Thanks for the additional information. The new image you provided is a Golden Backed Snipe Fly and we don’t believe it has any connection to the pods you observed.
Eric Eaton confirms our own suspicion
I’m thinking the “cycle” is the other way around. It looks clear to me that these are midges that have become infected with some kind of entomopathic fungus. This is certainly well-documented in other flies, but I haven’t seen a group effect like this before.
Thanks so much Eric,
We had pondered the possibility that this might be a fungus. Thanks for the confirmation.
Letter 25 – Flies have Fungus
Subject: Fly death mystery
Location: North Dakota, US
October 30, 2015 10:15 am
Hi bug people, I love this site! I am in north Dakota and with our weather getting colder our indoor fly population is finally declining. This year I’m noticing dead, dessicated flies on the walls, which isn’t too unusual, I realize they cling effortlessly with their clawed feet, but I’m seeing a white dust pattern beneath their little corpses. I’m would guess its wing scales shed during their distressing freezing death, but a professional opinion would mean a lot to me. Thanks for your time.
Dear Humble Observer,
We like your handle. Your Flies are being attacked by Fungus. Different Arthropods have been documented on our site after being attacked by Fungus, including Cellar Spiders, Tarantulas, Wasps and Raspy Crickets as well as Flies.