Fungus Attack: All You Need to Know for Prevention and Treatment

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:

  • Candida
  • Dermatophyte
  • Aspergillus
  • Histoplasma

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:

Characteristic Fungi Bacteria Viruses
Size Larger Medium-sized Smallest
Cell type Eukaryotic Prokaryotic Neither
Treatment Antifungal drugs Antibiotics Antiviral drugs or vaccines
Examples Candida, Aspergillus E. coli, Streptococcus Influenza, HIV

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:

Pros:

  • Effective against fungal infections
  • Can help prevent complications

Cons:

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

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

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.

Lung 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.

Bloodstream Infections

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.

Infection Type Location Symptoms
Skin Infections Skin Rashes, itching, redness
Nail Infections Nails Thickening, discoloration, brittleness
Lung Infections Lungs Cough, fever, chest pain, shortness of breath
Bloodstream Infections Bloodstream 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

Diagnosis Techniques

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

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.

Drug Type Examples Pros Cons
Topical antifungals Creams, ointments, and shampoos Easy to apply, localized May take longer to work
Oral antifungals Tablets and capsules, like Fluconazole Systemic treatment, fast-acting Potential side effects
Intravenous (IV) IV formulations, like Amphotericin B Potent, immediate delivery Requires medical supervision, side effects

Alternative Remedies

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

Personal Hygiene

  • 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.

Healthcare Settings

  • 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.

Control Measures

  • 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:

Prevention Measures Effectiveness Cons
Personal Hygiene High Personal effort required
Environmental Safety Moderate May not cover all possible contaminants
Healthcare Settings High 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.

Current Challenges

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.

Solutions

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.

Reader Emails

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..
Pam
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.

Letter 2 – Pink Bubblegum Fungus from KwaZulu-Natal

 

Subject: Bright pink eggs?
Location: KwaZulu-Natal
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.
Signature: Jolene

Slime Mold

Hi Jolene,
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?
Anthony

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.

Letter 4 – Slime Mold

 

Subject:  insect eggs?
Geographic location of the bug:  King County, Washington
Date: 01/05/2019
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

Slime Mold

Dear 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
Date: 01/05/2019
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

Slime Mold we believe

Dear 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.

Slime Mole we believe

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.

Slime Mold we believe

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!
kevin page

Moths attacked by Fungus

Hi Kevin,
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.

Moth attacked by fungus in cave

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.
Kevin Page

Letter 7 – Growth in Dart Frog Vivarium might be Fungus

 

Subject:  I think these are eggs….
Geographic location of the bu:  Ontario Canada
Date: 12/24/2018
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!
Happy Holidays
How you want your letter signed:  Jason Kemp

Growth in Dart Frog Vivarium

Dear Jason,
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
Location: Missouri
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

Birds Nest Fungus

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
Signature: Dave

Bird's Nest Fungus
Bird’s Nest Fungus

Dear Dave,
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.”

Bird's Nest Fungus
Bird’s Nest Fungus

 

Letter 10 – Butternut Wooly Worm and Gypsy Moth Caterpillar

 

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.
Audrey

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?
Hello!
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. ”

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

Probably Fungus
Probably Fungus

Dear Bekah,
We do not believe this phenomena is insect related.  Our best guess is that it is some type of fungus.

Fungus we suppose
Fungus we suppose
Possibly a Fungus
Possibly a 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.
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

Letter 14 – Fungus Attack

 

Subject:  What is this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern Ohio -Cantwell Cliffs, Fall
Date: 09/11/2017
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

Bug dead from Fungus Attack

Dear 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…?
Location: Seattle
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

Growth on Basket
Growth on Basket

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.

Growth on Basket
Growth on Basket

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

Mushroom

Hi 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?
Signature: Betsy

Nest? or Fungus???

Dear Betsy,
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
Date: 03/10/2019
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

Fungus we believe

Dear Paul,
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.
Thanks,
Penny Oliver
Signature: Penny Oliver

Fungus we believe
Fungus we believe

Hi Penny,
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.
Signature: Roberta

What’s That Spider???

Hi Roberta,
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
Date: 04/20/2021
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,
PJ
How you want your letter signed:  PJ

Bird’s Nest Fungus

Dear 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.

Bird’s Nest Fungus

Thanks to everyone who wrote in that this is a fruiting body of the Bird’s Nest Fungus.

Hello Daniel,
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.
Anyway, turns out, this is bird’s nest fungi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nidulariaceae). My sample was really dried out due to our unseasonably dry/sunny weather recently, but it’s pretty unmistakable.
It’s amazing how much it looks like a woven egg sac, tho. Fungi are pretty darn fascinating.
Thanks again!
PJ

Letter 22 – Mysterious Fly Deaths

 

Luciia Clusters
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

Mysterious Fly Deaths

Hi Mel,
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
Daniel:
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?
Eric

Letter 23 – Fungus Ridden Flies

 

Subject:  Fly or parasite
Geographic location of the bug:  Mechanicsburg, pa
Date: 08/11/2018
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

Fungus Ridden Fly

Dear Courtney,
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. 

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?
Thank you!
Signature: Curious Naturalist

Mystery Insects
Mystery Insects may be Fungus Infection

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?

Mystery
Fungus Infection
Mystery
Fungus Infection

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.

Golden Backed Snipe Fly
Golden Backed Snipe Fly

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
Daniel:
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.
Eric

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.
Signature: HumbleObserver

Fly:  Attack of the Fungus
Fly: Attack of the Fungus

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.

Fly Attacked by Fungus
Fly Attacked by Fungus

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

56 thoughts on “Fungus Attack: All You Need to Know for Prevention and Treatment”

  1. After researching earlier today about insects being infected by fungus I did come across something that might apply here. I read about how fungus that effects ants can take out entire colonies because as the fungus reaches it’s final stages, it shoots out spores in every direction that will infect any nearby ants. Because of this, ants that become infected are quickly banished and removed from the colony.

    Now…whether that relates to this situation or not is debatable, but perhaps that’s the situation here? One infected fly, wasp, caterpillar reached it’s final fungal stage and shot out spores infecting a group of flies. Granted, it would take some time before the fungus overtook the flies and made them imobile, they could have congregated together during this stage. Fungus is also said to control the minds of their insect hosts, so possibly the fungus controlled the flies to cause them to congregate so that the fungus could grow together?

    All of this is speculation based on what I read earlier, but if this is a fungus infection, perhaps this is a possible cause?

    Reply
  2. Though it’s likely fungal, applying an ant-based theory is difficult because the flies aren’t part of a colony; each one would be attracted to a smell or a visual cue, and land to investigate.

    Maybe that’s what happened here, but it’s odd that their bodies seem to be aligned in the same direction. There’s no randomness that one would expect due to individual flies coming in from various directions and getting stuck.

    Reply
  3. 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.

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

      Reply
  4. 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.

    Reply
  5. 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.

    Reply
  6. 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. 🙂

    Reply
  7. 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.

    Reply
  8. 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!

    Reply
  9. 5.6.14

    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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  10. 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.

    Reply
  11. 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!

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

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  12. I was searching the web to find out about this type of “growth” on the outside of my fabric dirt pots that I am using to grow potatoes. From everything I read, I thought it was potato bug eggs/larvea. So I bought some diatamaceous earth as well as peppermint extract. The diatamaceous earth is supposed to kill the bugs, and the peppermint oil it to deter insects from eating the plants … but, when i sprayed the peppermint water on the “eggs” they smoked or puffed (as you say) … so it must be a fungus.

    I think that I have it pinpointed down to which product I bought .. as I have made different mixtures of potting soil and only this particular one has this mold. It also is growing some little umbrella like mushroom/fungus.

    Reply
  13. I was searching the web to find out about this type of “growth” on the outside of my fabric dirt pots that I am using to grow potatoes. From everything I read, I thought it was potato bug eggs/larvea. So I bought some diatamaceous earth as well as peppermint extract. The diatamaceous earth is supposed to kill the bugs, and the peppermint oil it to deter insects from eating the plants … but, when i sprayed the peppermint water on the “eggs” they smoked or puffed (as you say) … so it must be a fungus.

    I think that I have it pinpointed down to which product I bought .. as I have made different mixtures of potting soil and only this particular one has this mold. It also is growing some little umbrella like mushroom/fungus.

    Reply
  14. 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

    Reply
  15. 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.

    Reply
  16. 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…?

    Reply
  17. Greetings:
    I know it’s been years since your post but i had to respond. We have one in our flower bed in Denton, TX. At first I thought it was a kitty poo but when I bent down to photograph it I too discovered it was a plant. If you find it’s name, etc could you let me know? Please put mushroom or something like that in the subject line so’s I don’t just toss your response.
    Thank you for you photo and question.
    Sincerely,
    John

    Reply
  18. Greetings:
    I know it’s been years since your post but i had to respond. We have one in our flower bed in Denton, TX. At first I thought it was a kitty poo but when I bent down to photograph it I too discovered it was a plant. If you find it’s name, etc could you let me know? Please put mushroom or something like that in the subject line so’s I don’t just toss your response.
    Thank you for you photo and question.
    Sincerely,
    John

    Reply
  19. My daughter ate the pink bubblegum fungus thinking it was something else. I eould like to know if that fungus it is toxic or dangerous.

    Reply
  20. It is very strange due to the habits flys have and the way they are positioned. Initially I thought it could be the plant itself but then they would be all over the place in different directions. I still think a cordycep could be responsible especially since it could have affected the flys in a larval phase when they were in the same lain area.

    Reply
  21. 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.

    Reply
  22. This appears to be the fruiting body of a ‘Birds Nest’ fungus. The spores are contained in the ‘eggs’. I have seen similar varieties from Ohio to The Amazon.

    Reply
  23. 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..

    Reply

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