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The Curse of the Zombie Spiders!

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If you're one of those people who thinks that False Widow spiders are (ahem) poisonous, or worse still, you're worried they are out to get you, then I'd advise you to click away right now.  Try the Daily Mail instead.  This story is not for the fainthearted or feeble-minded.

What are Zombie Spiders?  Quite literally they have four feet in the world of the living and four feet in the world of the dead.  With the meager bit of life they have remaining inside them they silently stagger about, knowing that their cursed days on earth are severely numbered.  Like bad apples they are rotting from the outside in, and soon their ghostly white furry bodies will be hanging lifeless from little silken threads, gently twisting and turning in the breeze.

What malevolent fate has befallen them?  What fiendishly evil sorcery can possibly have taken control of their bodies?  The villain here is the white fur which you see surrounding their bodies.  It's an entomopathogenic fungus, which is a type of fungus that affects invertebrates.

The Cellar Spider (Phlocus sp.) seems particularly prone to infection because it lives in the damp environments where this fungus thrives.  Once the fungus is established the spores from the fungus rapidly infect other spiders nearby.

For a while the infected spiders are able to live on in a zombie-like state enveloped by the fungus.  But slowly and surely the fungus consumes their living tissue and kills them.  The only tolerable thing about this murderous fungi is that it's harmless to humans...

well almost.

Once the spider's body has succumbed to the fungus it's tormented spider soul is released into the world.  Then when you are sleeping these Ghost Spiders (Pholcus sanctus) rise up and march into your ear canal where they lay their eggs.  When the zombie spiderlings hatch out they feast on your brain until they reach adulthood then they climb out through your eye sockets and go in search of their next victims.

Okay, I just made that last bit up...

or did I?


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