Zombie moth
The Oak Eggar Moth on nature reservation in mid Wales, UK Wikimedia Commons

A new "zombie" virus is infecting wild caterpillars in the UK that are causing them to explode and the internet is flipping out. Wildlife experts have reported that caterpillars across rural Lancashire are being infected with the baculovirus, a microorganism that overrides their natural aversion to sunlight and causes them to climb to the tops of plants where they die.

The virus then bursts out of its host's corpse to infect other caterpillars in the tree or bush below and claim their next victim.

Dr Chris Miller from the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside described the phenomenon as a "zombie horror film."

"I was carrying out a large heath butterfly survey on Winmarleigh Moss and noticed a caterpillar hanging from the end of a branch of a small bush. Later on I saw another one hanging from a tall blade of grass both were dead but otherwise intact," he explained.

"Whilst checking some other branches I noticed small scraps of caterpillar skin on a couple of branches suggesting the two I had seen where not the only ones to be affected. It's pretty gruesome when you think about it."

The virus seems to have infected the larvae of the Oak Eggar moth caterpillar population which are commonly found in the English countryside and Europe.

"It is really unusual seeing caterpillars high up as they can be eaten by birds," Miller said. "This is a caterpillar of the oak eggar moth which eats heather and bilberry so it is normally hidden in the undergrowth, not at the top of plants."

The internet, on the other hand, is freaking out over the bizarre phenomenon. One person said the world is swiftly turning into an "unplotted dystopian novel." Many responded with references to the apocalypse saying "this is just the beginning."

"How could this happen to such a good group of bugs ? Why cant this happen to roaches?" one Twitter user mused.

Exploding 'zombie' caterpillars in Britain are freaking out the internet with one person saying the world is quickly turning into an "unplotted dystopian novel." Many people responded with references to the apocalypse.

"How could this happen to such a good group of bugs ? Why cant this happen to roaches?" one Twitter user mused.

"Hopefully it doesn't spread to humans. Zombies in fiction, cool. In reality, somewhat cool but extremely scary and terrifying," another person said.

"When did the world become a bad sci-fi movie?" one person wrote.

Another simply said: "... and so it begins."