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March 6, 2012 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Yet another reason to live in Australia. Spider behaviour in the flooded SE Oz.

Apparently this does happen elsewhere.
posted by jcm (115 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Statement #2 in no way supports statement #1.
posted by leotrotsky at 3:54 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Spiders are awesome. I don't care what anyone says, or how many spiders pour out of their mouth as they scream.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:56 PM on March 6, 2012 [38 favorites]


I'm guessing that the spiders are more insanely poisonous than elsewhere, in keeping with all other Australian fauna, and that;s the selling point.
posted by Artw at 3:56 PM on March 6, 2012


This should help bring down the price of those spider silk violin strings.
posted by Kabanos at 3:57 PM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Is there a Greasemonkey script that will hide all posts mentioning Australia?
posted by facetious at 3:58 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dropbear script.
posted by Artw at 3:59 PM on March 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


I'm waiting for some party to claim the massive increase in rural web coverage.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 4:01 PM on March 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


They look like wolf spiders to me (not insanely poisonous), which is interesting by itself, since the previous times the spiders were of a different family altogether. For example, the ones in Texas (yes, texas, not australia) were orb web spiders.
posted by dhruva at 4:02 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know exactly how many spiders is too many spiders, but that picture clearly shows too many spiders.
posted by tommasz at 4:02 PM on March 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


no no no no no no no
posted by LordSludge at 4:02 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


yes yes yes yes yes yes.

Now don't move, I see a couple of them in your hair.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:07 PM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Good for them!
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:08 PM on March 6, 2012


not insanely poisonous

Clearly not indigenous then.
posted by Artw at 4:09 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


They look like wolf spiders to me

Wolf spiders don't weave webs. I believe they only use their spinnerets to make egg sacs and safety lines.
posted by aubilenon at 4:13 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dear God it's worse than you thought.

This is my nightmare. Also, what happens if you're blind. WHAT HAPPENS.
posted by jimmythefish at 4:13 PM on March 6, 2012 [18 favorites]


Plenty of Australian spiders aren't poisonous at all. Just enormous.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:14 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dear God it's worse than you thought.

Wow! They should forget about all the sheep shearing and just harvest spider silk.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:15 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I found that anywhere near where I live, I'd take the kids' supersoakers away and make me a flamethrower. Melt down those tires and stir in the kerosene, Annie, we got a farm to save.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:17 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


(It does not help that I watched Alien and Aliens back-to-back this weekend).
posted by jimmythefish at 4:17 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


(It does not help that I watched Alien and Aliens back-to-back this weekend).

Wait, no, that does help.

Someone get Sigourney Weaver down to Wagga Wagga ASAP.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:19 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


My wife is severely allergic to most furred creatures, I miss having a pet and spiders have always fascinated the hell out of me. Anyone know if tarantulas and other hairy spiders are hypo-allergenic?
posted by JaredSeth at 4:20 PM on March 6, 2012


Metafilter appears to be divided into those spider-loving freaks who delight in weirding out those who are underwhelmed by arachnids.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:20 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm. I'm an arachnophile married to an arachnophobe, sitting bored in an airport waiting for a connecting flight after two good Belgian Whites. Do I forward or not?
posted by Blue Meanie at 4:22 PM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Australia's "features" (varied and dangerous critters, Vegemite, Rupert Murdoch) are all things that I can appreciate from a far distance but will run away screaming if they brush up next to me.
posted by backseatpilot at 4:23 PM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Spiders are awesome. They kill mozzies.

(Presumably we'll see that the reason not to live in the US is because it's full of wuss-bags...)
posted by pompomtom at 4:23 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


So normally these spiders wouldn't even get near each other's webs, let alone co-operate on building massive ones, right? Normally these spiders would not hesitate to eat one another? It's super fascinating to me that they are willing to have some kind of emergency truce so they can all have a better chance to survive the flood.
posted by overglow at 4:24 PM on March 6, 2012


Also, apologies for a news.com link, but more pics here.
posted by pompomtom at 4:25 PM on March 6, 2012


Sys Rq: Wow! They should forget about all the sheep shearing and just harvest spider silk.

No reason not to do both!
posted by gilrain at 4:29 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


As horrific as this looks it's still better than the upcoming Spiderman reboot.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:29 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pakistan's spiderweb-shrouded trees, previously.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:31 PM on March 6, 2012


Needs more Shatner.
posted by KHAAAN! at 4:33 PM on March 6, 2012


But then, so does just about everything else.
posted by KHAAAN! at 4:34 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


So… anyone else read John Wyndham's Web recently?
posted by Pinback at 4:34 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can spiders survive a long time in water? I'm picturing the spiders concentrating onto higher ground as the flood rises, but it seems like it would move too fast for a spider to actually outrun (even if they activate that hyper speed thing they do).

I fear that at some point a flood is going to squash them together so much that we reach the Spider Singularity, and all of their webs will condense into an impossible to escape sphere with a churning veneer of spider.
posted by lucidium at 4:36 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


One early morning last week, I was walking on the pavement in Sydney CBD when a movement on a roadside trash bin caught my eye. It was a huge (about 4 inch across), hairy, black spider running around the rim of the bin. It freaked the heck out of me. Now, I just basketball-throw junk into bins from three feet away. Sometimes, it takes a couple of throws, but at least I haven't died of a heart attack.
posted by vidur at 4:39 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read a fun story about the 2010/2011 Queensland floods, and how a guy trapped in floodwaters climbed up a big old tree to escape, and he was up there for like a month or whatever, and then the helicopter came to rescue him and the wash from the rotor BLASTED SPIDERS AND OTHER INSECTS DOWN FROM HIGHER BRANCHES OF THE TREE AND ALL OVER THIS GUY, and they bit the shit out of him like a million times, but he was okay and later probably laughed about it, because it's not a bad story.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:39 PM on March 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


NO.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:40 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


This will haunt my nightmares for weeks. Spiders and amazing and fascinating, and I am terrified of them since I encountered a tarantula on a road as a small child. However, I do not seem to possess the impulse control to not click on the links, and now I know that somewhere in the world there is a field of freshly spun spiderwebs.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 4:40 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


an impossible to escape sphere with a churning veneer of spider

Thanks. I'll be thinking of you when I wake up screaming later tonight.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 4:42 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is this the part where I explain that, because we've had so much rain here in New South Wales, the spiders have moved into the house en masse?

Current count stands at: one cute furry huntsman on the loungeroom wall and his cousin on the back door, one big black dead unidentified specimen in the shower (my daughter sprayed it with hair spray before I could stop her), dozens of daddy long legs scattered around the windows, and I-don't-know-how-many have taken up residence in my car. I have to clear the outside mirrors of cobwebs before I can reverse out of the driveway each morning, I kid you not.

However, my warm'n'fuzziness about spiders does not extend to redbacks, so I refuse to walk up the backyard to see how many currently live in the stack of wood left by the previous tenant.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:43 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's nice about this picture is look how all those spiders are getting along. They're buds. Probably all "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" "Morning!" (etc.) except instead of "Morning!" it's just the chitinous rustling of their venom-drenched mandibles.

Also, I feel pretty bad for the butterfly with sodden wings slowly crawling up that tree to dry out and it bumps into something springy and sticky and is all like "Oh okay what the fuck is THIS shit?"
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:44 PM on March 6, 2012 [41 favorites]


Also, I just realised that when the flood waters recede, the spider sphere would basically be Katamari Damacy come hideously to life.
posted by lucidium at 4:47 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Better Wagga Wagga than Walla Walla.
posted by wallabear at 4:50 PM on March 6, 2012


Spiders are awesome. They kill mozzies.

posted by pompomtom


Oh, hell, yes. And I love seeing a blowfly get stuck in a web, and then the spider comes running out to truss him up and suck his annoying buzzy guts out. Awesome gory fun.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:57 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Metafilter appears to be divided into those spider-loving freaks who delight in weirding out those who are underwhelmed by arachnids.

The Best of The Web
posted by hal9k at 4:57 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wagga Wagga. Heh. Heh.
posted by Splunge at 4:58 PM on March 6, 2012


Plenty of Australian spiders aren't poisonous at all. Just enormous.

THAT'S NOT ANY BETTER

aaghaaghifeelthemcrawlingonmegetemoffgetmoff
posted by zombieflanders at 4:59 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, I feel pretty bad for the butterfly with sodden wings slowly crawling up that tree to dry out and it bumps into something springy and sticky and is all like "Oh okay what the fuck is THIS shit?"

He'd probably be all, "Those darn kids!"
posted by Sys Rq at 4:59 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


what in so many fucks
posted by Riki tiki at 5:00 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


In case anyone else was curious, it turns out that tarantulas at least are indeed hypo-allergenic.

and, unless I'm completely misreading her, my wife has agreed to name ours "Hell No!"
posted by JaredSeth at 5:01 PM on March 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


Wolf spiders don't weave webs.

Yes, not conventional webs, but I'm talking about these sorts of wolf spiders, the ones that build funnel webs.
posted by dhruva at 5:02 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nuke the site from orbit.

It's the only way to be sure.
posted by TBAcceptor at 5:23 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would have been perfectly fine never knowing about this.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:24 PM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


When I was a little kid, we moved to a house out in the country, and it turned out that the malevolent spider Shelob from Lord of the Rings lived in the garage.

We never really talked about it is the odd thing, it was just one of those things you lived with.

As big as a truck. Fast. Quiet. Menacing. I lost 6 of my best friends - each one poisoned, imprisoned, and slowly sucked bone dry.

We stopped getting pets after the 16th puppy.

We moved. For all I know she's still in there. Waiting.
posted by kbanas at 5:26 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hmm. I'm an arachnophile married to an arachnophobe, sitting bored in an airport waiting for a connecting flight after two good Belgian Whites. Do I forward or not?

Depends. Do you want to arrive home to a set of divorce papers nailed to the door of your empty house, or not?
posted by jokeefe at 5:33 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


One early morning last week, I was walking on the pavement in Sydney CBD when a movement on a roadside trash bin caught my eye. It was a huge (about 4 inch across), hairy, black spider running around the rim of the bin.

During the four years or so I lived in Sydney, I managed to convince myself that all the big-ass spiders were country spiders, and the city was free of them. I knew it wasn't true, but I had no choice. It embarrasses me no end to have an irrational fear of any kind, but spiders freak me the hell out.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:37 PM on March 6, 2012


Check those webs for luckdragons; Ygramul the Many has invaded reality!
posted by nicebookrack at 5:47 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


My fear would be to walk through that at night.

Walking into one orb weaver web is bad enough (albeit those webs are utterly magnificent) but dear God, I'm an Aussie and that's beyond contemplation.
posted by chris88 at 6:04 PM on March 6, 2012


We stopped getting pets after the 16th puppy.

See, I think the problem here is that you are competing with pictures of the wrongness thing ever and I am not sure that is possible.
posted by angrycat at 6:37 PM on March 6, 2012


*picks up his broom*

*flips it bristle-end-up*

*strokes the bristles affectionately*

We knew this day was coming, Claudette. Let's go out swingin'.

*squares his shoulders, leaves*
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:41 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Regarding the danger of Australia's spiders (and Australia's notoriously dangerous fauna in general) is that there have been no deaths caused by spider bites since antivenom was produced (1956 for redbacks and 79 for funnel webs). The most dangerous spider in Australia is actually the harmless hunstman, largely from car collisions caused due to its sudden appearance (cars make excellent resting spots for big, hairy hunstman).

What is the most dangerous animal in Australia? Other than humans, of course?

Horses, followed by cows, then dogs. Sharks can only manage a pitiful fourth place.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:41 PM on March 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


*picks up his broom*

*flips it bristle-end-up*

*strokes the bristles affectionately*


*Big, hairy spider falls and lands directly on face*

*Flails around helplessly, crying like a baby*
posted by vidur at 6:45 PM on March 6, 2012


Shit, this climate change stuff if going to get distinctly unpleasant in ways that I hadn't considered. I forgot about the insects.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:46 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those webs are just stunning! Thing is, all spiders have a 'preadaptation' to sociality - juvenile spiders hatch within egg sacs and spend time there just hanging out with their siblings for a while (perfectly happily for the most part) until they emerge from the egg sac. So THIS - this unusual exhibition of sociality - is fascinating!!!
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 6:56 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have said it before and I'll say it again: I AM NEVER GOING TO AUSTRALIA!!!!
also never clicking on any of these links EVAR!!!!!!

blargh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by supermedusa at 7:03 PM on March 6, 2012


Serial Killer Slumber Party: "The most dangerous spider in Australia is actually the harmless hunstman, largely from car collisions caused due to its sudden appearance (cars make excellent resting spots for big, hairy hunstman)."

(Apologies to all the physically & emotionally squeamish out there - not just you arachnophobes.)
posted by Pinback at 7:05 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was visiting Sydney, wandering around late at night and stopped by a gas station for a soda. A guy pulls up in his car and comes in a little panicky, saying there's a huge spider in his car. The gas station attendant didn't want any part of it, but I grabbed a big piece of cardboard and went out with the guy. Sure enough, enormous spider, big as my hand. I think it was a huntsman. I didn't know anything about it one way or the other, but coaxed it out of the car with the cardboard. It started walking away when the gas station attendant came over an doused it with fuel. Poor spider.
posted by roue at 7:05 PM on March 6, 2012


I hate this really baddddd
posted by illenion at 7:13 PM on March 6, 2012


What I hate is when you're trying to heard a huntsman the size of a dinner plate out of the room and into the garage or whatever, so you sort of tap the wall next to it, and it decides not the run in the opposite direction, but to LEAP DIRECTLY FROM THE WALL AND ONTO YOUR PERSON.
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:18 PM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


"I was visiting waiting to leave Sydney, wandering around late at night and stopped by a gas station servo for a soda softie."

Fixed that bit for you.

"...gas station attendant raging blister-dicked fuckface asshole came over and doused it with fuel."

Also that bit.
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:26 PM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was going to make a joke about big hairy huntsman sleeping in a car but you guys ruined it for me.
posted by wallabear at 7:32 PM on March 6, 2012


Wonderful and very touching. Good luck on ya', spider people.
posted by chance at 7:40 PM on March 6, 2012


aw, this reminds me of my backyard in Queensland (except way thicker). And the way my little brother almost died of a heart attack when he visited, that was great.
posted by jacalata at 7:58 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or was that just one photo? I'd love to see how widespread that gets.

Because, frankly, that didn't seem that different when I took a little hike just off the beach in Manly last year.
posted by Metro Gnome at 8:03 PM on March 6, 2012


Blimey! They're beauties.
posted by Flashman at 8:16 PM on March 6, 2012


Pinback that was sick. I almost bust a gut laughing at the end. I must be sick.
posted by Transl3y at 8:31 PM on March 6, 2012


What I hate is when you're trying to heard a huntsman the size of a dinner plate out of the room and into the garage or whatever, so you sort of tap the wall next to it, and it decides not the run in the opposite direction, but to LEAP DIRECTLY FROM THE WALL AND ONTO YOUR PERSON.

I am not really an arachnophobe. I think I harbor a perfectly normal and reasonable fear of giant and/or dangerous insects and arachnids and creepy crawly things in general, and I am generally live and let live when it comes to our creepy crawly friends. But that comment just made me whimper out loud and I cannot even deal with the possibility of that ever happening to me so I think I will just never set foot in Australia ever ever ever.
posted by yasaman at 8:35 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


They're lovely, really. They only jump on your like that because they want to hug your heart.
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:55 PM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


r
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:55 PM on March 6, 2012


I'd forgotten all about this until this thread, but a few years ago I was driving in Brisbane. I'd stopped to give way at the terminating street in a t-intersection, and a chick on the cross-street was waiting for oncoming traffic to clear before she turned right.

I had the air-con on and the music cranked up, but I still clearly heard her shriek as a huntsman ran down the outside of her windscreen. She threw the drivers side door open and bolted. I don't know who laughed harder, me or her boyfriend who was stranded in the passenger seat of a driverless car in the middle of traffic.

Critters can be fun on so many levels.

And I say this as someone who had a huntsman fall on her when she was heavily pregnant, and was then told by various 'old wives' that my baby would have a spider-shaped birthmark. Which she doesn't.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 9:09 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can't really blame the spiders, they're just trying to stay dry and stay away from the snakes.
posted by islander at 9:09 PM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yup. You got the spiders up top, the snakes down bottom, and just when you thought your abdomen and torso were safe, out from the shrubbery bursts a screaming swarm of hover-daggertoads.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:17 PM on March 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


Fun fact: the collective noun for a group of hover-daggertoads is a lanyard of hover-daggertoads.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:19 PM on March 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


Hover-daggertoads? Dare I search for this?
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:48 PM on March 6, 2012


The greatest trick the hover-daggertoads ever pulled...was convincing Google they didn't exist (using daggers).
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:59 PM on March 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Huntsman spiders are fondly known as "forehead-jumpers" in our household. Their bite isn't bad, as Australian spiders go.

Also, I get the hhhhhhhuhs from anything in large squirmy teemy piles (caterpillars, spiders, AFL players), so between the ants in my kitchen (godDAMN this flood weather) and these spider articles, I'm pretty much an itchy, walking shudder at this point.
posted by gingerest at 10:10 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I've had quite enough of the flooding rains, thanks. Between the spiders, the ants (including gazillions of those huge flying bastards) and every other hairy/biting/icky creature that's taken up residence in my house, I'm quite looking forward to the next drought to thin them out a bit.
posted by dg at 11:33 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


They're not spiders. This is a spider.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:22 AM on March 7, 2012


Nothing a some Black Pearl, Sulfurous Ash, and a quick In Flam Grav wouldn't cure.
posted by Sparx at 12:47 AM on March 7, 2012


I, for one, welcome our new spider overlords.....

Get living (busy building webs), or get busy dieing...

The first rule of spider web weaving during a flood is NOT to talk about spider web weaving during a flood (but you CAN get your photo taken)...
posted by Prunedish at 1:00 AM on March 7, 2012


Can spiders survive a long time in water?

Not sure exactly what counts as a 'long time' in water, but Funnel Webs can apparently survive up to a day or so while immersed in water. So if there is a big arse ugly spider floating in the pool, it's probably best to assume it's still alive and kicking.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 2:08 AM on March 7, 2012


Huntsmans are noble creatures and killing them is bad luck. Covering them with a drinking glass (or beer stein or even saucepan for the ones with really large leg-span) then sliding a sheet of paper underneath so you can carry them outside is mandatory.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:28 AM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm really glad I saw this after I woke up instead of before I went to sleep.
posted by Cocodrillo at 2:46 AM on March 7, 2012


Why move them, A Thousand Baited Hooks? We let them hang around. After a few days, I reckon they realise that dinner ain't being delivered to them and they disappear.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:58 AM on March 7, 2012


Regarding the danger of Australia's spiders (and Australia's notoriously dangerous fauna in general) is that there have been no deaths caused by spider bites since antivenom was produced -

This is not actually good news.

What this really means is that in Australia, when spiders kill people, they are so efficient that no one ever finds the body.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:05 AM on March 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Why move them, A Thousand Baited Hooks?

You're right, of course. Only move them if the alternative (because you live with someone less tolerant) is killing them.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:20 AM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this the part where I explain that, because we've had so much rain here in New South Wales, the spiders have moved into the house en masse?

Oh god, this is happening to me in Canberra at the moment too. FIVE huntsmen in as many days. In the bedroom and the laundry, mainly. And those are just the ones I saw.

Stupidly, I googled huntsman recently and discovered they have a habit I would rather not have known about: a "cling reflex" when frightened. You will not be able to shake them off. ARGH.
posted by lollusc at 3:53 AM on March 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Only move them if the alternative (because you live with someone less tolerant) is killing them.

Yep. I'd be happy to have huntsmen around (they kill roaches after all) but my girl is terrified of them. Which is fair enough, because apparently her father used to throw bugs on her (long story).
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:03 AM on March 7, 2012


It riles them to believe that ye perceive the web they weave.

I would suppose that, if caught in rising waters, they would weave a raft. Possibly the webs already cast will float as waters rise anyway, but I'm guessing on that one.
posted by Goofyy at 4:30 AM on March 7, 2012


I actually grew up and lived most of my life in Wagga. I can now put this right at the top of my official list of Reasons I Am Never, Ever Going Back (Ever).

(The distant association with Wayne Carey is still right up there though.)
posted by pseudonymph at 5:02 AM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would be happy to let them stay put too, if they stayed put. But they teleport. It's one thing to have one on your laundry ceiling; quite another to find it inside your shoe; or on your pillow.
posted by lollusc at 5:25 AM on March 7, 2012


Yeah, I generally have negative (read:shuddering) reaction to spiders so that doesn't look very fun. But on to a good story from last night:

We live on a marsh, which means tons of bugs and mosquitoes. The spiders around our house obviously know this, so they have a habit of building these elaborate spider webs between the tree next to our driveway and our cars. We have a stacked driveway, so every night we have to swap our cars since I leave earlier for work and he gets home later than I do. It's coming around to spring here, so the mosquitoes are out in full force for the first time since October. Last night, as we were walking out to our cars to swap them in the driveway when I hear "phgluh"... and turn to see my professedly-spider-indifferent partner spinning and waving his hands around his head wildly in an attempt to get the spider/spiderweb off of himself. He was obviously caught off guard after months of not having to employ the "lead with your hands" technique of walking to the car. This continues for probably 20 seconds while I start to giggle-into-bellylaugh. He finally stops and gets into his car. I'm watching him still twitch and wave his hands around his head intermittently in my rearview mirror while we back up, laughing the whole time. As we walk back inside, I'm still laughing and he's giving me his best indignant pout. I think he's still a bit sore at me.

Thankfully we don't live in Australia or that spider might have actually won the Battle for the Cars.

posted by This Guy at 5:53 AM on March 7, 2012


Oh my good christ. If I woke up one morning and saw that I would have a breakdown, right there and then. Turn on the cooker, wrap myself in cling film and seal it up using the heat from the rings. Oxygen is over-rated.

I have read this link, closed it, read the rest of the front page, cleared away lunch and have come back to say I am STILL FUCKING ITCHY
posted by fatfrank at 6:14 AM on March 7, 2012


So let me tell you about this wolf spider I kept as a pet.

Usually when I see a spider running around my house, I don't like to step on it or crush it. 2" packing tape is the preferable way of catching them, basically a bug trap window. This time, however, I found this huge spider that freaked me all the hell out, more than usual. I couldn't bring myself to kill it, so I captured it in a little plastic tupperware.

He was an awesome pet. I named him Parker, after Peter Parker, the Spider-Man. He built a nest in the tupperware, basically a web-blanket that covered the entire surface. I routinely fed him whatever insects invaded my homestead, typically silverfish and flies.

So I became an expert in capturing flies without killing them. I had to stun them, typically by hitting them while they are flying, or by tapping them when the are creeping in the window. I hate flies, and it brought me great joy to feed them to my pet who would use his front four paws to snare then hug the fly into unconsciousness while he sucked the life out of it. He was a magnificent hunter.

Also, when Parker was full of fly juice and I gave him another insect, he would wrap up the fly in a spindly cocoon, basically spider-tupperware, for a later meal. The inside of the sealed tuppeware smelled of stinking, rotting death, and I hope that those disgusting flies died terrified.

As summer went on, Parker laid an egg. I don't know how she laid an egg after being alone in tupperware for three months. It doesn't really matter. She gave birth to few dozen little spiders. It was horrifying and sweet all at once.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:23 AM on March 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Ah, hunstmans.

I grew up in a house right on the edge of a national park, and we'd get all manner of beasties in the yard. My favourite are the net casting spiders but we'd get basically all the spiders that South East Queensland has to offer.

One night when I was about sixteen, I woke up in the middle of the night and tottered into the loo. The layout of the house was such that turning on the hall or toilet light was likely to wake my sisters up, who slept with the bedroom door open and basically copped a full face of light if I did. There was enough moon out for me to make it to the toilet without crashing into anything, so I didn't bother turning on the lights and just made my way there by memory.

Anyway, I had a pee and then discovered that we were out of loo roll, and decided that groping about in the dark that with the door closed I wasn't going to wake my sisters up so I could risk turning the light on.

Every surface was covered in spiderlings.

There was a huge huntsman parked in the light fixture and a few thousand baby spiders all over the walls, the cistern, the lid of the loo. They hadn't quite made it to the floor, so thankfully I hadn't trodden on them. Little tiny sequin sized spiders and one miffed looking mother.

I made a very delicate retreat.
posted by Jilder at 10:51 AM on March 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Spiders are friends, since I really, really hate flies, and had a pet tarantula as a teen (and also reading Charlottes Web as a pre-teen). But, there was this episode of xfiles. I hated it. But must say these images bring it back...
posted by mumimor at 11:50 AM on March 7, 2012


Diary of Captain Cook. Day 357

Have made landfall on a new continent. All appears well. A bountiful land. Crew are excited and gone exploring. I believe this truly to be God's own land and a worthy place for His Majesty's subjects to come and build new lives.

Day 359
Three of the crew are dead. Two were bitten by something. The third had his head removed by a giant lizard. I believe I shall be well received at the Royal Society with these specimen.

Day 363
Jesus Christ on a stick. What the fuck is up with this place? We are leaving. It is fit only for convicts.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:46 PM on March 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


A Thousand Baited Hooks: "Huntsmans are noble creatures and killing them is bad luck. Covering them with a drinking glass (or beer stein or even saucepan for the ones with really large leg-span) then sliding a sheet of paper underneath so you can carry them outside is mandatory."

Sorry, but I'm very territorial when it comes to spiders. Noble or not, any spider or, really, any form of non-human life, that ventures inside the walls of my house will be hunted down and given a merciful (ie instant) death with the nearest suitable object to hand (except that Eastern Brown Snake that was captured by a snake catcher and taken away to be released in the National Mark nearby). Outside those walls, that's the territory of any being that chooses to live there and I'm happy to co-exist with the local fauna on that basis. I'm even OK with the cane toads hanging around the outside lights to catch the bugs that congregate there. I live in a semi-rural area, so we get all the nasties that suburban dwellers see, plus about seven billion other forms of crawling, flying, wriggling things that freak my partner and daughters out.
posted by dg at 2:29 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I had a pee and then discovered that we were out of loo roll, and decided that groping about in the dark that with the door closed I wasn't going to wake my sisters up so I could risk turning the light on.

Every surface was covered in spiderlings.

There was a huge huntsman parked in the light fixture and a few thousand baby spiders all over the walls, the cistern, the lid of the loo. They hadn't quite made it to the floor, so thankfully I hadn't trodden on them. Little tiny sequin sized spiders and one miffed looking mother.


Hi! You don't know me, nor I you, but I find it interesting that I will be remembering your anecdote every fucking minute of the rest of my life, waking and sleeping.
posted by angrycat at 4:32 AM on March 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


OK now that the thread has sort of died down (killed with fire!), here's why I find this phenomenon really interesting. I've seen it in the news three times now, the one in Texas, the Pakistan floods and now in Australia (see above). I don't know about the Texas ones, but in both the Pakistan incident and this one, there was flooding.

Spiders are very territorial, and will generally attack other spiders (which is one of the reasons why they are hard to use in Bio-control techniques to keep pest populations low). But a minority of spiders are what we call 'social' spiders, because they live in groups, have cooperative prey capture and breeding. These spiders are very rare, about 0.001% of all spider species. So you can imagine that the study of these social spiders is very interesting, and there has been a lot of research in tot he the evolution of sociality in spiders. One hypothesis is that if the spiders experience high prey rates, i.e. if there is enough food for everybody, they do not need to compete with each other and this allows for the formation of groups. Other hypothesis include the lack of suitable good patches for them to spread around. There is some evidence for this, where a nominally solitary (aggressive) spider showed a reduction in cannibalism when provided with enough food.

So in floods such as these, the reasoning is that there is a sudden augmentation in the number of prey available (because the prey are also fleeing the water), plus there are not many great substrates left, and thus the spiders end up together, in an uneasy truce. I think (I'm speculating a bit here) that these floods provide a very dramatic natural experiment to show the importance of super high prey levels and suitable substrate in promoting social behaviour.
posted by dhruva at 11:21 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hi! You don't know me, nor I you, but I find it interesting that I will be remembering your anecdote every fucking minute of the rest of my life, waking and sleeping.

I will join you in any suit asking for Jilder to cover therapy costs and lifetime supplies of bug spray.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:09 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


dhruva: why assume that the spiders are not, in fact, mercilessly engaged in a cannibalistic every-spider-for-itself civil war? A few snapshots of spiders together in a huge web provides no evidence that they are being social over time.

Return a week later, and you might just find one ENORMOUS spider which has managed to eat all its brethren.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:46 PM on March 8, 2012


Heh. The origins of Shelob. I assume that once they have fed a lot, they lose interest in fighting. I'm basing my speculation on this paper (pdf).
posted by dhruva at 6:16 PM on March 8, 2012


I guess I kind of adopted a spider myself over the winter. Not a particularly scary one but still a pretty big garden spider (common to England and Canada and I'm sure elsewhere) that for some reason spun a web up in the corner of my kitchen back in the autumn. I'm kind of squeamish about the big insects in general (lobsters, crabs, those terrifying house centipedes) but spiders have always seemed kind of passive and useful so I was like, ok, good luck dude, hope you can make it through the winter. A bit of googling revealed that they usually don't, in North America at least, so I took this as a challenge: together, common brown garden spider, we're going to defy the odds. And I also had this minor infestation of these weird speckled little moths, that I think were coming out of a bag of Indian basmati rice, so I figured he could just Hoover them up.
However, chance alone didn't seem to be carrying any of these moths into his web, so I took to trying to wave and guide them myself into the web, and when this didn't work I'd catch them, alive, and fling them, which also wasn't very successful, a moth having effectively no mass. The only time I did manage to transfer a moth to the web was when one fell into my wine glass, and I used tweezers to stick it up there. And soon, anyway, these moths had disappeared and the spider would just sit there, day after day, never moving, just waiting. After a month or so had passed I began to grow concerned. How long could a spider live without food? He'd eaten perhaps one tiny moth in two months. Eventually he retreated to a corner and curled up, and appeared to be either hibernating, or just waiting for death.
I had an idea. There were no insects on hand (this is winter in Canada) but I did have meat. So I cut little pieces of steak and with the tweezers strung them in his web, giving a little twitch so he'd know he had some action. Still, no result; he remained curled up in a ball and the pieces of meat remained, dangling like macabre Christmas ornaments.
A week or two later I was sweeping the kitchen floor and found him lying there in the corner- in his weakened state he had just dropped from the wall, but was still showing vague, lethargic signs of life. My first thought was to put him outside to die peacefully and with dignity in the frigid outdoors, but then I thought no - it's spider ICU time. Scooping him into a drinking glass I administered more beef chunks, stat. And to my surprise, after I poked the meat right under him, he took to it like a puppy to a teat, straddling and probing and suckling. I could practically see the life flowing back into this hideous hairy creature. Day after day I dropped another sliver of meat into his glass, and he would feed on it, leaving a little white mark wherever he had bitten, until it had dried out and he could draw no more nourishment. Soon he had lost his ghostly pallor and frailness and was once again the robust, fearsome beast I had once known, and with his life force restored was trying to claw his way out of his juice glass ICU.
Of course I don't want to stand in his way: I tilted the glass and left him to make his own decision, whether he wants to continue to be coddled and spoon-fed snippets of supermarket steak, or whether he wants to live life on his own terms. Evidently he chose the latter. Coming home after one unseasonably mild day I found he was was gone, presumably the same way he'd gotten in, under the kitchen door. Since then it's gotten pretty cold again, so I guess once Spring comes I'll have to get out there and see if he's still around.
posted by Flashman at 9:07 PM on March 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


I too subscribe to the inside/outside demarcation line between me and spiders, particularly with huntsman, who tend to end up hiding in unexpected places (such as the inside of cupboard doors, crawling into car windows whilst on the freeway, etc), and scaring the shit out of me.

Also, this thread has jinxed me. Haven't seen a single substantially sized spider in or about my flat for the entire summer, when there's at least a few decently sized hairy beasties lurking in unexpected places every other year. Of course, sitting on my back step having a cigarette last night I look up and hello there's a huntsman on the underside of the eave almost directly above me. Thankfully it was a pretty small one, only about 2.5-3 inches in diameter and fairly slim bodied, but if it makes it way inside my house - we'll lets just say we'll have a bit of a 'situation.'
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 11:00 PM on March 8, 2012


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