The spiders hiding in the Finnish Museum of Natural History
November 2, 2016 12:06 PM   Subscribe

"In around 1963, curators became aware of the presence of some kind of exotic spider in the museum. Following a sudden explosion of sightings in the winter of 1970, they decided to carry out a systematic search, which revealed an infestation on the whole ground floor of the building. There were spiders everywhere; in cupboards and drawers, on desks and shelves and behind pictures on the walls."
posted by severiina (33 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
NB there is one somewhat alarming close-up photo of a spider but otherwise the hordes are left to the reader's imagination.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:18 PM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


“In a small kitchen room the spider was exceptionally abundant,” wrote ecologist Veikko Huhta, who published a paper on the infestation in 1972. He and his fellow curators removed around a dozen specimens from the cupboards and drawers in the staff kitchen, but within a few days the spiders were replaced by new ones “apparently coming from spaces beneath and behind the cupboards”.

Huhta hunts hordes of hiding hämähäkki.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:27 PM on November 2, 2016 [15 favorites]


NB there is one somewhat alarming close-up photo of a spider but otherwise the hordes are left to the reader's imagination.

May as well also mention the "is it safe?" dentist pic in the "Related Stories" if we're going to warn people about that
posted by thelonius at 12:30 PM on November 2, 2016


>14 females survived total starvation for an average of 453 days. One spider – a female – lived without food or water for 755 days.

What the good God damn hell?! Is this, like, a normal thing for spiders to do?
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:32 PM on November 2, 2016 [11 favorites]


Way too much nature in that Natural History museum.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:33 PM on November 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


And I wondered if "The museum full of venomous spiders that just won't die" was possibly related to the related "The people who stopped sleeping" story.
posted by lagomorphius at 12:33 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Exit screaming through the gift shop.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:34 PM on November 2, 2016 [43 favorites]


Thought he might have a fair bit of published research out there, so here's a paper by Veikko Huhta et. al. entitled "Spiders active on snow in northern Finland" (pdf).

Even the spiders have sisu.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:36 PM on November 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm surprised by the nonchalance of the museum staff. "Getting bit would be like winning the lottery" may be true, but in the US at least the potential for a lawsuit that could destroy the institution would probably prompt a different kind of response -- in the form of pesticide and significant signage at least.
posted by cubby at 12:38 PM on November 2, 2016


Newsflash, Finland isn't the US.
posted by Pendragon at 12:48 PM on November 2, 2016


Finland isn't the US

Yes, I am aware of this. Hence my observation of one of the ways that Finland is different than the US, which was surprising to me as a person who knows a lot about the US and very little about Finland, and so was one of the ways in which this post has expanded my understanding of the world.
posted by cubby at 12:57 PM on November 2, 2016 [12 favorites]


the cure for a spider infestation can involve more spiders
posted by exogenous at 1:01 PM on November 2, 2016


...and then wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:04 PM on November 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


Ha ha ha ha, no trigger warning.
posted by Oyéah at 1:07 PM on November 2, 2016


Museum Full of Spiders is a headline that really buries the lede that spiders can live for 2 years without food holy shit what...
posted by odinsdream at 1:27 PM on November 2, 2016


There are far too few spider infestation pics in this thread for my liking.
posted by Duffington at 1:28 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


You probably have a better chance of encountering a Black Widow when buying organic grapes than worrying about any museum spider anywhere...

Don't ask former fresh grocery stockers what they would often find in banana boxes...

Somehow... As I have gotten older, my arachnophobia has gotten manageable - the cottage I currently live in is infested (outside walls/trees) with all sorts of spiders (getting to/from the car everyday requires waving both arms in from of you in a scissor-like chopping motion to cut the webs that get built constantly) - and a few occasionally make it inside...

But, these days I no longer feel like I have to burn the place to the ground when I find one co-habitating with me... Probably... because, after living in Australia with Huntsmen (frankly too big too smash, without then having to re-paint the wall you smashed it against), nothing we have here can really terrify me anymore... and I would rather have the spiders eating the millipedes/centipedes, than those themselves...
posted by jkaczor at 1:30 PM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


spiders can live for 2 years without food holy shit what...

They can self resurrect after drowning too.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:39 PM on November 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


You probably have a better chance of encountering a Black Widow when buying organic grapes than worrying about any museum spider anywhere...

Welp. I'm gonna miss grapes.
posted by odinsdream at 1:42 PM on November 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


Jkaczor, your third paragraph brought up the mental image of Radagast at home with a sick hedgehog. ...
posted by The otter lady at 1:58 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Greg_Ace: Way too much nature in that Natural History museum.

I would suggest that there was actually less nature in the museum. I wonder if there was any reduced issues with insects and other small pests.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:04 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


>14 females survived total starvation for an average of 453 days. One spider – a female – lived without food or water for 755 days.

What the good God damn hell?! Is this, like, a normal thing for spiders to do?


Yeah, I had a rose tarantula that didn't eat for more than a year, even though I stuck a cricket in there every week or so. She usually went at least a few months when she was getting ready to molt.
posted by Huck500 at 2:22 PM on November 2, 2016


14 females survived total starvation for an average of 453 days. One spider – a female – lived without food or water for 755 days.

Hey kids - who wants to play Hungry Hungry Spiders?
posted by lagomorphius at 2:24 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


She usually went at least a few months when she was getting ready to molt.

Bikini season.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:28 PM on November 2, 2016 [16 favorites]


Nuke the place from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by w0mbat at 2:46 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


14 females survived total starvation for an average of 453 days. One spider – a female – lived without food or water for 755 days.
Sing or Swim: "What the good God damn hell?! Is this, like, a normal thing for spiders to do?"
odinsdream: "Museum Full of Spiders is a headline that really buries the lede that spiders can live for 2 years without food holy shit what..."
lagomorphius: "Hey kids - who wants to play Hungry Hungry Spiders?"

So much for "read the room". I would've thought everyone here was against cruelty to animals, but you all seem happy with someone starving spiders to see how long they take to die. And yet, when I do the same with just one kitten…
posted by Pinback at 2:47 PM on November 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


People care more about "cute" animals, it's a fact. Related: Australia's 'ugly' animals attract less study (Phys Org, March 7, 2016)
Koalas and kangaroos are subject to more scientific study than Australia's twitching rodents and bats, according to new research which finds 'ugly' animals attract less funding and investigation.

The bias towards more attractive creatures means that while 'ugly' animals make up 45 percent of Australia's native fauna, they are rarely subject to intense scientific scrutiny, said a study to be published in Mammal Review this week.

Researcher Trish Fleming said once mammals were classed as 'good' (such as kangaroos, echidnas and koalas), 'bad' (introduced species including cats and rabbits) or 'ugly' (native bats and rodents), the latter group had very little written about it.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:06 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


/r/whatsthisbug gets very grumpy when people talk about killing spiders. They seen to be OK with killing bedbugs and lice though.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:34 PM on November 2, 2016


It's an interesting story how the spider population has survived so long, but they are not dangerous really. The presence of spiders in the museum is well known to locals and everyone goes to that museum with their kids. There have been no reported bites ever. And you can hold it in your hand if you like that sort of thing. (Link includes closeup pictures of said spiders. Also, I just realised that the guy in the video used to teach me mathematics).
posted by ikalliom at 4:12 PM on November 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


Next time the Soviets invade it's not just going to be the terrain or the climate.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:37 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Did they try carving an Elder Sign into the museum at any point?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 6:55 PM on November 2, 2016


YLE (the Finnish public broadcaster) has more information about photographing the spiders. They link to a page with a video that only works in Finland (Suomi!) but it has some more photos in their orange glory.
posted by myopicman at 12:44 AM on November 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Don't ask former fresh grocery stockers what they would often find in banana boxes...

Of course, I googled though anyone who grew up with more than the stadium version of Belafonte knows the score. Strangely my first foray didn't find much but did come up with this interesting culinary insect pinterest. Cricket quesadilla, uh huh!

The answer is cocaine and methamphetamine apparently.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:46 PM on November 3, 2016


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