Can you spot the spider corpse here? Looks like it succumbed to some sort of fungal infection. Fungi are quite diverse and I don’t recall ever seeing one quite like this one. Here’s a closer view.
I suspect that webbing is probably from the spider itself. It probably was hiding inside a silken retreat when it died.
Would the fungus properly be called an arachnopathogen? I think so but there’s practically no hits when I search for that term.
I did find a photo with a similar looking fungus on BugGuide though. Sadly, no info on the identity of the fungus. It’s neat to see that the photo was taken not too far from where I live though.
Am I the only one that wonders if I should be wearing a surgical mask when I get close to something like this?
This unfortunate ant fell victim to a fungus, Cordyceps perhaps.
This short sequence from an episode of the Planet Earth series gives a nice introduction to the phenomenon.
I was thrilled to find this stinkhorn, Phallus indusiatus, growing right on the side of the trail. I’m not sure how long they last, but with frequent foot traffic through the area, I might have been lucky to be the first in the area.
There’s lots of interesting information on the wikipedia page for this species, including a surprising physiological effect on women.
One of my photography resolutions for the year is to use my wide angle lens more. I thought this was a good subject for it, particularly in the first photo, showing the trail in the background. Using the wide angle lens required getting quite close for these photos. Being male, and consistent with what’s reported on the wikipedia page I linked to above, I found the smell disgusting.
There’s a neat time-lapse sequence from BBC’s Planet Earth series showing various fungi growing. The sequence starts around 23:20 and the fungus pictured above starts at 24:10.