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Arachnid overlords
May 6, 2009 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Be glad you don't live in Bowen, Queensland. The town is being overrun by giant bird-eating spiders, which are venomous and as big as a man's hand. They're the biggest spiders in Australia, a land known for monstrous creepy crawlies.
posted by Chocolate Pickle (135 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Aside from scrolling down from the beginning (why did I look at the picture? Why did I read this post? Why was it posted? You, ChocoPickle, are evil), it seemed to me that the person interviewed used the word 'normally' way too often about spiders AS BIG AS YOUR HAND. There is nothing normal about spiders like this. Even their 'habitual actions' should be seen as the actions of a cthonic entity that has managed to breach the barrier between the depths of the nether reaches and the sun lit lands of happy 'normal' life.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:21 PM on May 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


MetaFilter: a cthonic entity that has managed to breach the barrier between the depths of the nether reaches and the sun lit lands of happy 'normal' life.
posted by ornate insect at 10:24 PM on May 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


See this is why I can't live in Queensland.
posted by awfurby at 10:27 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is why I carry a handgun.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:29 PM on May 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


From the article:
"only been about five sightings of the giant spiders"

"It's not plague proportions or anything."
posted by ryanrs at 10:29 PM on May 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


DO NOT WANT
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:30 PM on May 6, 2009


AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
posted by Avelwood at 10:31 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Spiders are beautiful, timid creatures, but damned if I don't undergo a total freakout when I walk into a room and realize there's a full-grown huntsman on the ceiling right over my head.
posted by Ritchie at 10:32 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Be glad you don't live in Bowen, Queensland. The town is being overrun by giant bird-eating spiders, which are venomous and as big as a man's hand."

Plus they had to put up with months as being one of the pricipal locations for the movie Australia, a film so terrible it ensures that anyone or any town associated with it is deemed to be less that it was before as a result.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:33 PM on May 6, 2009


Pony request: Spider FPPs should only be allowed prior to 4 pm.
posted by The Deej at 10:34 PM on May 6, 2009 [12 favorites]


Be glad you don't live in Bowen, Queensland.

I'm glad I'm not even on the same side of the world, never mind the same side of town. So, so soooooooooooooooooooo glad.
posted by fshgrl at 10:35 PM on May 6, 2009


These links don't really delve into the central question of how "bird-eating spiders" capture their prey. I imagine a particularly large and venomous spider sneaking up on a bird... and then the bird just flies away. Do the spiders shoot webs or something?
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:37 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


When I was in Australia last year I would often be transfixed by the beauty of a spider that was just hanging out in its web by the side of a street. Truly beautiful.

I believe you have your answer, twoleftfeet.
posted by Kattullus at 10:40 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Strategically placed sticky stuff probably, same way humans (used to) do.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:40 PM on May 6, 2009


NO
posted by Stunt at 10:42 PM on May 6, 2009


Now that's a spider I can respect.

Other spiders go for flying insects. This one goes for birds.

Then again, I've had spiders attack me but I'll give them a mulligan seeing as they aren't that bright.
posted by porpoise at 10:42 PM on May 6, 2009


Oh, the fuzzy wuzzie! I love spiders.
posted by padraigin at 10:43 PM on May 6, 2009


This puts me in mind of a lovely morning we had with our toddler at a park in Brisbane last June. She was crawling all over the jungle gym with a couple of Aussie kids who, also being toddlers, found her Canadian accent both fascinating and totally impenetrable.

Anyway, all of a sudden several kids start yelling and all the parents run over.

Naive Canuckistani mom (aka mrs gompa): What happened?

Aussie Parent No. 1 [offhand, as if describing skinned knee]: One of the kids saw a [something or other] spider.

Naive Canuckistani mom: Oh. Are they dangerous?

Aussie Parent No. 2 [also offhand]: Oh, yeah. Deadly.

Such a beautiful country. Shame it hates people.
posted by gompa at 10:43 PM on May 6, 2009 [18 favorites]


If they're anything like other hunting spiders, they capture their prey by being unbelievably fucking fast. Have you ever seen a wolf spider go after prey? No webs. They just lurk, wait for an opening, then zoom across the ground in a goddamn femtosecond and bite. They're hardcore.
posted by shadow vector at 10:48 PM on May 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Most emphatically do not want. Ever. Not even in this hemisphere. If it has more than two legs and can eat birds? No, thank you.

I will never sleep again.
posted by StrangeTikiGod at 10:48 PM on May 6, 2009


San Luis Obispo, a beautiful town on the coast about half-way between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is overrun by tarantulas all the time.

Of course in Australia they also have much nastier and more poisonous creatures than tarantulas that I'd rather do without.
posted by eye of newt at 10:49 PM on May 6, 2009


Previous insect-based freakouts on Mefi:

Visit Australia!
Awful, Awful Insects
posted by Rhaomi at 10:51 PM on May 6, 2009


The bite from a bird-eating spider is not known to be fatal to humans, however it can cause up to six hours of vomiting.

If I saw one of these guys in my house, it wouldn't have to bite me because a fucking lifetime of screaming and running and, yes, vomiting would commence. Mission accomplished, nightmare spider!
posted by moxiedoll at 10:52 PM on May 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


I don't come down to where you work and slap the sleep out of your night.
posted by stresstwig at 10:53 PM on May 6, 2009 [31 favorites]


As I said to an ausie friend of mine via twitter this evening: "Have you ever considered the fact that you live in God's DO NOT WANT pile?" His reply : "Or the "Extreme badass" pile, I have not really come to a conclusion on that one yet."
posted by strixus at 10:55 PM on May 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Spiders are beautiful, timid creatures, but damned if I don't undergo a total freakout when I walk into a room and realize there's a full-grown huntsman on the ceiling right over my head."

I wonder how many people looked up after reading this. (I did.)
posted by archagon at 10:56 PM on May 6, 2009 [10 favorites]


Be glad you don't live in Bowen, Queensland.

See, I feel bad for the people of Bowen. I'm sure they're very nice people. But because of this, now anytime anyone mentions "Bowen, Queensland" to me, my first reaction will always be, "Oh, you mean the place with the giant fucking spiders that decorate their nests with small Hondas?"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:56 PM on May 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


What do you do when you see a tarantula? Here's one idea.
posted by eye of newt at 10:58 PM on May 6, 2009


Okay, I'm interested, but I'm not looking until my lunch break tomorrow. I have enough insomnia problems as it is.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:58 PM on May 6, 2009


heh, I can't believe that hasn't shown up on mefi yet.
Even the 'little' spiders in Brisbane are pretty intimidating to non-tropics folks. My two housemates and I spent the better part of 2008 too afraid to enter the back garden because it had been colonised by so many fluorescent spiders that you couldn't see through the webs. (Golden orb spiders, so not dangerous, but still..)
When my family visited me in Brisbane (from Melbourne) last December I scared the shit out of my little brother by pointing out a spider as he walked past its web. Good times!
posted by jacalata at 11:00 PM on May 6, 2009


If it has more than two four legs and can eat birds?

FTFY
posted by ryanrs at 11:00 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Protip: Insert a   between the strikeout and the fix.
posted by ryanrs at 11:02 PM on May 6, 2009


there's a full-grown huntsman on the ceiling right over my head

Ah, the clock spider. My introduction to terror on the Internet, circa 1999.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:04 PM on May 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Wikipedia assures me that their venom will not kill a human but can induce up to six hours of vomiting. I think I might commit seppuku come hour 3.
posted by crataegus at 11:15 PM on May 6, 2009


WolfDaddy: "Ah, the clock spider. My introduction to terror on the Internet, circa 1999."

Have you met his pal, Ceiling Spiders?
posted by Rhaomi at 11:19 PM on May 6, 2009 [10 favorites]


These links don't really delve into the central question of how "bird-eating spiders" capture their prey.

Like they catch insects. The bird flies into and is caught in the spider's web.
posted by pracowity at 11:26 PM on May 6, 2009


The bite makes this one sound like a "do not handle" spider, but honestly, if you come across a spider every two or three days in your shower, scoop the little guy up, and toss him outside, you'll get used to it.

Plus, it's good for the reflexes, nabbing them as they scurry about. You think you're scared? Imagine, if you will, being a spider, minding your own business, when a giant furless pale spider-kin missing three legs comes rushing at you from out of the sky. You can't even see a a proper mouth on the thing, but you know it doesn't mean you well.
posted by adipocere at 11:31 PM on May 6, 2009 [12 favorites]


Have you met his pal, Ceiling Spiders?

That is the most disturbing thing I've seen on the internet. Certainly won't be turning out the lights tonight. Thanks so much, NOT!
posted by marsha56 at 11:38 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


box yellies ??
posted by mattoxic at 11:42 PM on May 6, 2009


And people confuse Australia with New Zealand...(we have no monstrous creepy crawlies)
posted by atmosphere at 11:43 PM on May 6, 2009


Spider eating a bird. Ahhh, Queensland. Everything's bigger and better up there.
posted by ninazer0 at 11:45 PM on May 6, 2009


Bird-eating spiders in North Queensland? Big deal. In southern Queensland, we have mice who eat war veterans. Or at least try to.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 11:46 PM on May 6, 2009


(we have no monstrous creepy crawlies)

WetaFilter
posted by Ritchie at 11:46 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Spiders are beautiful, timid creatures, but damned if I don't undergo a total freakout when I walk into a room and realize there's a full-grown huntsman on the ceiling right over my head.


Twice in the last two months I've had huntsmen run across my dashboard, over the instrument binnacle and stop to lurk on the driver's side window while I was driving. On neither occasion did I park my car in someone's living room or around a tree. But there were MANY MANY SWEARS.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 11:48 PM on May 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Spiders are beautiful, timid creatures[....]

Beauty is subjective, so I can't argue there, but the only reason they're 'timid' from your perspective is because you're a thousand times bigger.

There's a reason why we don't farm spider silk, even though it's far superior to moth silk. It's because they're aggressive, nasty carnivores that will eat just about anything in the same size class, including each other.

From my perspective, it would be more accurate to call them the the ugly assholes of the exoskeleton crowd.
posted by Malor at 11:50 PM on May 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


"Spiders are beautiful, timid creatures, but damned if I don't undergo a total freakout when I walk into a room and realize there's a full-grown huntsman on the ceiling right over my head."

I wonder how many people looked up after reading this. (I did.)
posted by archagon at 10:56 PM on May 6


I refuse to look up. It's there. I know it is. It's just waiting for me to look up. The second I do, it'll let go of the ceiling to drop on my face. If you never look up, it'll get bored and walk away, searching for some sucker who will, foolishly, look up.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:50 PM on May 6, 2009 [10 favorites]


My god, is it really time to dust off the old chestnut, Giant Centepede Eats a Mouse?

(warning, not safe for ANYTHING)
posted by Afroblanco at 11:59 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


My Google-Fu is failing me this late in the evening/early in the morning, but there is a graphic of Australia somewhere in the series of tubes that is labeled with Perth to the west, Sydney to the east, and THINGS THAT WILL KILL YOU on the rest of the continent.
posted by tzikeh at 12:00 AM on May 7, 2009


was it really necessary for the ceiling spiders to arrange themselves to look like an unruly thatch of pubic hair?

(Oh hell I just got an idea for a really nasty bit of photoshop)
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:04 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank you, Rhaomi, I wasn't creeped out yet but now I am.

Also in the annals of insect/vertebrate eatery: mantises will eat hummingbirds; this centipede catches and eats a bat. Poor bat.
posted by hattifattener at 12:13 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter : vertebrates getting pwned
posted by Afroblanco at 12:19 AM on May 7, 2009


... the only reason they're 'timid' from your perspective is because you're a thousand times bigger.

Duly noted. I've never been shrunk down to the size of a bug. When it happens I may revise my attitudes regarding spider timidity.
posted by Ritchie at 12:21 AM on May 7, 2009


Now if the choice was between the land of Limbaugh, Hannity, Cheney & numerous other facist soul gnawing monsters and a place where the occasional spider nabs a passing bird, then I'm content right where I am thanks. And you're welcome to visit.
posted by peacay at 12:43 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's pretty unfair, peacay. Andrew Bolt is out there every single day doing his damnedest to be as loathsome as Limbaugh, Hannity and Cheney, and yet you don't even acknowledge his existence. What does he have to do, stab a koala in the face?
posted by Ritchie at 12:52 AM on May 7, 2009 [14 favorites]


These spider posts on MetaFilter have actually helped me get over a really difficult lifelong arachnophobia. So... thanks! I find myself looking more closely at spiders, exploring their faces and anatomy. I'm a lot stronger now and i can b.....
*collapses, weeping*
posted by maryh at 1:02 AM on May 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


So who read the Goosebumps story that had spiders in it.

Still to this day I remember the part in the book where the main character decided to eat some snap, crackle, and pop and as he was eating it he realized it wasn't well snapping, crackling, or popping.

Then he looked down to see he was eating spider eggs.

Only thing that freaks me out more than spiders are there eggs.
posted by Allan Gordon at 1:07 AM on May 7, 2009


Spider eating a bird. Ahhh, Queensland. Everything's bigger and better up there.

What's great is that that spider is a golden orb weaver. There are about 5 or so in my girlfriend's backyard alone (about 10 minutes out of Sydney's CBD).

I'm a big spider fan myself, something she is yet to reconcile. I mean, who wouldn't want a giant Murray huntsman for a pet?

For those keen on bird eaters however, I've had my eye on this.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 1:10 AM on May 7, 2009


tzikeh, was it this?
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 1:17 AM on May 7, 2009


damn it, i was almost over my "irrational" fear of toilet-bowl-dwelling insects.
posted by osloheart at 1:31 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


why the fuck would anyone click any link in this entire thread
posted by Mikey-San at 1:31 AM on May 7, 2009 [13 favorites]


At least down here in Southern Australia, the hoop snakes keep the bird-eating spiders down to manageable levels.
posted by tim_in_oz at 1:36 AM on May 7, 2009


What, nobody's said this yet?

I, for one, welcome our new arachnid overlords... and, just in case, C'thulhu fhtagn!
posted by WalterMitty at 1:41 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sure glad I didn't youtube spider bites after reading this. Yup, not one infected splayed arm that will keep me up at night, nor thoughts about punctures or anything. God damn you all.
posted by monocultured at 1:46 AM on May 7, 2009


Ceiling spider is watching you masturbate. With eight eyes.

(But he's only able to detect changes in light intensity and rapid movement. As long as he doesn't mistake your bird for a bird, you're safe. Put the feather duster away.)
posted by pracowity at 1:50 AM on May 7, 2009


Also, my sister is deeply, hilariously terrified of spiders. When I was living in the UK she once texted me from Australia to inform me of the presence of a huntsman in her house. On another occasion a particularly big huntsman traumatised her so badly that she called our mother over to deal with it.

Mum dispatched the offending arachnid with a gardening tool which is now known in our family as the Spider Divider.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 2:19 AM on May 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


This thread is the best reason for not allowing image tags.
posted by vbfg at 2:23 AM on May 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


Yeah, but I've still got my imagination tags.
posted by pracowity at 2:25 AM on May 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


Nasty, nasty post. Thanks! (And, WalterMitty, you beat me to it).
posted by acrobat at 3:26 AM on May 7, 2009


Yet another thing I don't want to be exposed to.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:38 AM on May 7, 2009


The blue-ringed octopus. Box jellyfish. Bird-eating spiders.

Every living thing in Australia hates you and wants you to die.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:43 AM on May 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


The little daddy-longlegs spiders that live in the corners of many of the rooms of my house have (judging by the egg sacs) been breeding again. Soon we will have a crop of cute little baby spiders, who will scatter themselves around, find new places to live, and ensure the cycle renews itself. All is right with the world.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:03 AM on May 7, 2009


this (spiderless) graphic explains everything.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:04 AM on May 7, 2009


My wife and I are planning a trip to Australia in the fall.

I am not going to bring this post to her attention.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:29 AM on May 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


just play lots of philip glass when the spiders are around - that'll divert her attention.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:31 AM on May 7, 2009


as big as a man's hand.

Looks at own hand. Makes spidery motion. Is glad to on the other side of the world.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:33 AM on May 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sometimes I'm reminded that while after two or three days of it, I hate the cold and rain, there are so many good reasons to be glad I live in the UK. Missing out on these, and Brown Recluses and such, not such a bad thing.
posted by opsin at 4:38 AM on May 7, 2009


That's it, keep it up. Keep making the spider jokes. I can picture a giant, hairy, eight legged 'Santa Claus' in front of a computer, making a list and checking it twice. Then he'll send out a few of his fist-sized boys to have a talk with all you guys who think you're so funny.
posted by digsrus at 5:15 AM on May 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


These links don't really delve into the central question of how "bird-eating spiders" capture their prey

Oh, they didn't mention it in the article?

They can also fly.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:20 AM on May 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


The bite from a bird-eating spider is not known to be fatal to humans, however it can cause up to six hours of vomiting.

True of Fosters as well.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:21 AM on May 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


If it has more than two legs and can eat birds?

I can haz bird?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:26 AM on May 7, 2009


I hate spiders. I always have. I always will. I know this- it's one of the primary things that defines who I am. But I ALWAYS click the links in the spider thread. It's some sort of weird aracnophobic self-loathing I guess. If I'm lucky, the hair on the back of my neck will go down in three or four hours.
posted by Shohn at 5:28 AM on May 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


True of Fosters as well.

is that right?

i'll remember not to try it next time i'm overseas; it doesn't exist in australia.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:39 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why is it that all of the creepy-crawliest/lowliest/scariest creatures are the only ones who will be left after a major worldwide catastrophe? (Giant spiders, cockroaches, snakes, etc., etc.)

We laugh at them. They'll have the last laugh.
posted by blucevalo at 5:42 AM on May 7, 2009


Regarding gompa's story, I would hazard a guess that the "something or other" word was "redback". Small, distinctive, capable of delivering a nasty bite which could kill a venom-allergic child, and well-known and common enough to provoke the (usual) reaction you saw: most of the kids watch fascinated, most of the adults watch with concern for the kids, and one of the adults fetches bug spray or kills it with a shoe.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:42 AM on May 7, 2009


Sometimes bird spiders catch their prey by jumping off a tree and landing on a bird in mid-flight.

(That is not a guess, it is a fact I distinctly remember from my third grade "big report" on spiders.)
posted by metastability at 6:21 AM on May 7, 2009


What do you do when you see a tarantula? Here's a better idea.
posted by spasm at 6:27 AM on May 7, 2009


It's a giant spider invasion of savings at Menards!
posted by oaf at 6:37 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hmm, no bird&spider pics. A shame. Here you go.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:42 AM on May 7, 2009


Bad news, Bowen: I have seen your future and not only do the spiders win, but you'll be spending the remainder of your short lives with William Shatner.

Seriously, 88 comments and no love for KotS?
posted by total warfare frown at 6:48 AM on May 7, 2009


"Due to the hissing sound the spider makes, it has acquired the nickname 'Barking spider'."

Damn barking spiders again.

All right, which one of you added this?
posted by timetoevolve at 6:56 AM on May 7, 2009


AnotherPony*Request: Why cannot we have a flag for BigFreakingSpider?
Is anyone who lives in Australia arachnaphobic? And if so, how do they cope?
* i bet australia has spiders that can eat ponies
posted by pointystick at 7:00 AM on May 7, 2009


* i bet australia has spiders that can eat ponies

Note to self : next time an Australian spider sends me a "pony request," IGNORE!
posted by Afroblanco at 7:04 AM on May 7, 2009


Mammal Ethics 101: It is just wrong when cold-blooded creatures eat warm-blooded creatures.
posted by Free word order! at 7:10 AM on May 7, 2009


I've maintained for a while now that a few months of snow is the price I happily pay for not having to check my shoes for scorpions in the morning.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:14 AM on May 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Due to the hissing sound the spider makes, it has acquired the nickname 'Barking spider'."

Are there hissing dogs?
posted by pracowity at 7:22 AM on May 7, 2009


I've maintained for a while now that a few months of snow is the price I happily pay for not having to check my shoes for scorpions in the morning.

Yes, exactly. Those fuckers will also fall on you in the night from the ceiling.

But that's nothing compared to the pubic thatch of ceiling spiders, the view of which made my stomach cramp in horror. I once had a panic attack trying to vacuum a spider off the ceiling. If I saw that in my house I might have to sell it and figure out how to move to Canada.

They don't have these giant hate-spiders in Canada, do they?
posted by sugarfish at 7:44 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Reason number 28 why I do not want to go to Australia ever.

Yet, I live with I have no idea how many Black Widows and Brown Recluses in the summer in Taos, NM. I'm arachnophobic, but I have learned to live with them, as long as they keep their side of the deal: They stay out of sight and leave me alone, or they die - it's a simple deal.

They tell me that the tarantulas migrate through Taos in October, but so far they haven't hit my part of town. If they ever do, I don't know - I may sell my place. I drove through a migrating herd of tarantulas in the panhandle of Texas one summer afternoon and it definitely scarred my psyche for life.
posted by Tena at 7:45 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Release the CaneToads on them!!! RELEASE THE TOADS!!
posted by Senator at 7:54 AM on May 7, 2009


However many deadly things there are in Australia, I'm sure that you're still FAR more likely to die from something mundane like a car accident.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:57 AM on May 7, 2009


Great, now I'm once again searching YouTube for weird things eating other weird things. Everyone asks questions about hypothetical battles like "who would win: Batman or a T-Rex?" If the battle has ever actually occurred in nature, YouTube will tell you the victor and show you the result in all the gory detail (it doesn't have the Batman one, unfortunately). Here's my favorite video of a spider eating a bird. It's my favorite almost entirely because of the soundtrack.

As a bonus, when searching for that video, I came across this video of a mouse in a Goliath spider cage, which is horribly suspenseful. It's like a Hitchcock movie.

The spider in the linked article looked intimidating, but then I realized that the ruler is metric -- the thing is only 5 centimeters long. That's under 2 inches. Boring. The spiders in the final link of this post are much cooler, and there are some really fantastic pictures in there. I really like the ogre-faced spider. What a bizarre-looking creature.

Incidentally, on the page for black widows, it says that "a black widow's toxin is 15 times more poisonous than that of a rattlesnake." What metric is being used there? What's it mean for a toxin to be 15 times more poisonous?
posted by painquale at 9:05 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


From Ritchie's link on the hunstsman spider:

...can attain a legspan of 250–300 mm (9.8–11.8 in)...

...can generally be identified by their legs, which, rather than being jointed vertically, blah, blah, blah...

Am I missing something here? I think I would just identify them by the fact that they are a f***ing foot across.
posted by madmethods at 9:20 AM on May 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


mefite pjern got bit and had to go to the hospital
posted by desjardins at 9:24 AM on May 7, 2009


But that's nothing compared to the pubic thatch of ceiling spiders

There are so many naughty directions to go with that comment.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:30 AM on May 7, 2009


I fully expect Australia to one day just rear up and shake itself like a continent sized dog, hurling all life off its back and into the sea.
posted by orme at 9:45 AM on May 7, 2009


Please add "no spiders" tag to all future posts, thanks.
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:01 AM on May 7, 2009


I will NEVER go to Australia
I will NEVER click any of the links in this post

GODDAM!!! if they ever invent flying spiders I will kill myself.

"herd of tarantulas"???????????????????? NO. DO. NOT. WANT. EVER.

I really dont know why I even read this thread.
I think I will move to siberia.
posted by supermedusa at 10:04 AM on May 7, 2009


"migrating herd of tarantulas"
Tena, this is figure of speech, right? Herd? Please tell me you jest because I am so afraid to google this phrase.
posted by pointystick at 10:13 AM on May 7, 2009


From what I gathered, they don't actually herd en masse like you might imagine. Rather, a certain species of tarantula all makes the trek at about the same time. They each have their own range so you might see a few in one day, but it's not like the ground is covered with a moving tarantula carpet or anything. Link.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:16 AM on May 7, 2009


Have you met his pal, Ceiling Spiders?

ohgodohgodohgodohgodclickawayclickfarfarfarawayohgodohgod
posted by Lucinda at 10:24 AM on May 7, 2009


lets not do the 'moving tarantula carpet' thing please....

why did I come back to this thread??? Am I really that eager to avoid work?
posted by supermedusa at 10:33 AM on May 7, 2009


That's not a spider. THIS is a spider.

2060: Humvee-sized, bulletproof meat-eating spiders attack (Armoured arctic arachnids, the big-game hunter's dream):
The worrying yet exciting news comes courtesy of National Geographic, which has been speaking to top arachno-boffin Toke Høye of Aarhus University. Høye has spent ten years studying the flesh-eating "wolf" spider Pardosa glacialis which lives in Greenland, north of the Arctic circle.

Disturbingly, the Scandinavian spider specialist reports that over that period the polar arachnids have increased significantly in size - and correspondingly increased the thickness of their exoskeletal armour plates. In just one warm year, it seems, you can see a 10 per cent increase: and over the decade that Høye has been visiting the Greenland spider colonies there has been a 2 per cent upward trend, which he puts down to global warming.

On its own this is quite bad enough. We here on the Reg big-game and military tech desk calculate that if the spider-wolves of the Arctic grow by 10 per cent annually**, in just fifty years they will be the size of Humvees. But it gets worse: oh yes.
I say we pull back and nuke 'em from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by zarq at 10:39 AM on May 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


"The spiders have been getting fed and now they're out walking about looking for females to mate with."
How can you read that line and not feel an instant connection to these spiders? Isn't that how most of us spent much of our teens and 20s?
posted by joaquim at 10:41 AM on May 7, 2009


Moving Tarantula Carpet — this sounds like the beginning of a serious hazing.

1) Take a shot.

2) Shave your entire body, excepting your eyebrows and head.

3) Take a shot.

4) Lay down, naked, and allow the moving tarantula carpet to crawl across you. Dainty footsteps, prickly with hair in the places where you have none. It's like you're being hit with hundreds of dandelion seeds ... if dandelion seeds were spider feet. Would they even notice you're there?

5) Take a shot.

6) Realize that being crawled over by thoughtless hordes who are unaware of your existence is good preparation for your career.

7) Take a shot.
posted by adipocere at 10:43 AM on May 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Pointystick - no it's true. Tarantulas migrate yearly in herds of thousands. I hit a herd crossing the highway up out of Amarillo one late afternoon. There were literally thousands of them crossing the highway and they all reared up on their hind legs. I was driving a pickup truck with furniture in the bed, coming back from Colorado. I just freaked totally.

I was certain the back of the truck would be full of them, but it wasn't. I just slid all over the highway. I was lucky there was no one else around - I'd have had a wreck. I was shaking so badly by the time I got past the spiders that I had to stop, but I was afraid to stop.
posted by Tena at 10:58 AM on May 7, 2009


O, and Pointystick - they reallly do migrate through Taos every year. They stay on the outskirts, in Ranchos and out in the Arroyos and mesas. I'm almost in El Prado, in the trees - we don't see them there.

Or at least, we haven't. I ever see one coming over my coyote fence and I'm out of there, screaming.

Some people keep them for pets.
posted by Tena at 11:00 AM on May 7, 2009


Must have been scrunchy.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:11 AM on May 7, 2009


Boy, I was coming in here to tell stories about involvement research involving the capture of deadly Australian spiders and venom milking and etc. etc. etc., but after seeing most peoples' reactions I think I'll just back out of the room slowly rather than incite a full-bore panic (and save the stories for freaking out people at meetups, instead).
posted by barnacles at 11:22 AM on May 7, 2009


When I was in high school, I was convinced I wanted to go to Australia.

I can now say I'm cured of that childhood fantasy.
posted by tommasz at 12:57 PM on May 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Spiders are beautiful, timid creatures, but damned if I don't undergo a total freakout when I walk into a room and realize there's a full-grown huntsman on the ceiling right over my head.

I generally don't have any fear of spiders or bugs, but a few years ago while visiting Australia, the giant huntsman I discovered sharing my shower stall definitely gave me pause. The only other bug that has ever really raised my anxiety levels was a child of the earth that I found inside my jeans, as I was putting them on -- one of the many joys of living in Socorro, NM.
posted by gruchall at 2:55 PM on May 7, 2009


"only been about five sightings of the giant spiders...It's not plague proportions or anything."

More than one of them is a plague.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:01 PM on May 7, 2009


Just to add to the US tarantula and Australian tarantula discussion: each tarantula looks to be about the same size. If the US one bites you, it is supposed to be like a bee sting. That's why people get used to them overrunning towns, and in schools they have these things in cages, and let them out to walk across the kids' hands.

The whistling spider, on the other hand, is extremely poisonous, as seems to be true for just about every living creature in Australia, and one bite can leave you vomiting for six hours.
posted by eye of newt at 3:32 PM on May 7, 2009


Dude, the fact that it fucking whistles is enough to warrant extinction. That's Just. Not. Right.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:41 PM on May 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Boris unavailable for comment.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:33 PM on May 7, 2009


Web of lies: UK press plays up Queensland spider 'invasion'.

Looks like we can chalk this one up to media sensationalism, folks. If you believe the media, that is.
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:07 PM on May 7, 2009


Some people keep them for pets.

One of those people is my friend Bryan. He has it in a terrarium. I can stand being over there exactly as long as I can forget ol' Spedra exists.

A few days ago, he pointed over to the corner and said 'look.' I did. It was in the corner of its tank and it was climbing the sheer glass walls. It was doing it by wedging itself in the corner and pulling itself upwards. It got over halfway up before it fell back down.

Sometimes Spedra molts, and he fishes out the discarded exoskeleton and leaves it on a paper plate out in plain sight, where it looks pretty much exactly like a loose tarantula.

I think I'm looking around for a new friend's house to hang out at. Any takers?
posted by JHarris at 5:16 PM on May 7, 2009


I'm Irish, but moved to Australia about ten years ago. Back home we have spiders, but they're small and harmless. Plenty of people don't like them (my brother has pretty strong arachnaphobia for example), but they can't actually **do** anything to you.

Not so down here in Australia. I lived in Sydney for about five years, home to Australia's most dangerous spider, the Funnel Web. Nasty.

I now live in Perth in Western Australia, and *every week* find large Red Backs in my shed, my garage, under the patio table and even (quite often) in the house. Sure, no one has been killed by a Red Back in about forty years, but that's cold comfort to me. They may not kill me, but they sure as hell will fuck me up and it will **hurt**. Of course, what's more of a concern is that they could indeed kill my infant daughter or her slightly older sister. Unlikely, but it still freaks me out.

It reminds me of my Aussie relatives (I married a local girl) laugh at me when discussing sharks and the like. "Reef sharks? PFFFT mate. They won't kill ya... [TAKES SLUG OF BEER] [PAUSE] Might take an arm though..."

Great. That **really** makes me feel better.

Bloody Australians. Why did I have to fall in love with this country and it's people?
posted by Mephisto at 6:34 PM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


City slickers scared off by bird-eating snake

A Sydney couple who watched in "horror" as a snake attempted to swallow a large ibis bird while they inspected a sea change property at Port Douglas have failed to return the real estate agent's calls.

The ravenous scrub python scared away the city slickers, house-hunting for a beach-front property at the exclusive Four Mile Beach, with its valiant attempt to devour the bird, which was so large, its beak punctured the snake's stomach.

posted by UbuRoivas at 7:00 PM on May 7, 2009


.Jesus. This thread is...unbelievably timedfor me.
posted by pjern at 7:42 PM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


wow, I knew you were in pain but I didn't know you were that bad off. Best wishes to you, pjern.
posted by desjardins at 7:48 PM on May 7, 2009


One of 37 golden orb spiders populating my front yard earlier this year. One of the smaller ones -- for scale, the cicada is approximately 2" long.
posted by coriolisdave at 9:59 PM on May 7, 2009


Dear jebus. I previewed all the comments in this thread and have confirmed that I cannot look at the OP. *goes and hides under the covers*
posted by luminous phenomena at 10:17 PM on May 7, 2009


Tena: "Tarantulas migrate yearly in herds of thousands. I hit a herd crossing the highway up out of Amarillo one late afternoon. There were literally thousands of them crossing the highway and they all reared up on their hind legs."

I'm surprised there aren't any pictures of these rumored tarantula migrations online. Lots of references, but no images or video.

Why look for them, you ask? Because the reality has got to be far, far less terrifying than my imagination
posted by Rhaomi at 11:43 PM on May 7, 2009


Rhaomi, I haven't seen such dramatic ones, but YouTube has had videos of groups of tarantulas migrating. I don't have access to the bookmarks right now, so I can't give you a link to a video of 4-5 tarantulas booking it. If you look for Temecula tarantulas on Youtube, Vimeo, or Blip.tv, you might find some nightmare fuel.
posted by crataegus at 4:02 AM on May 8, 2009


If spiders could fly, I would never go outside.
posted by tehloki at 4:12 PM on May 8, 2009


Somewhat belatedly:

painquale: What metric is being used there? What's it mean for a toxin to be 15 times more poisonous?

This is a bit of a guess, but I know that most toxic substances are defined by "LD-50" -- that is, how much of it has a 50% chance of being a lethal dose.

My assumption, therefore, is that black widow venom reaches LD-50 level at 1/15th the volume of rattlesnake venom.
posted by Malor at 6:54 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


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