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Giant Spiders Invade Australian Outback Town

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the welcome-to-my-sleepout-said-the-spider-to-the-bloke dept.

Science 373

youth68 writes "Australia is known around the world for its large and deadly creepy crawlies, but even locals have been shocked by the size of the giant venomous spiders that have invaded an Outback town in Queensland. Scores of eastern tarantulas, which are known as 'bird-eating spiders' and can grow larger than the palm of a man's hand, have begun crawling out from gardens and venturing into public spaces in Bowen, a coastal town about 700 miles northwest of Brisbane."

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373 comments

Where have I seen this before? (4, Funny)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869371)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_Legged_Freaks [wikipedia.org]

I didn't know this was based on a true story.

Re:Where have I seen this before? (1, Informative)

Niris (1443675) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869399)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarantula_(film) [wikipedia.org] Yay for giant spider flicks. Side note: Clint Eastwoods first film!

Re:Where have I seen this before? (4, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869797)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_Legged_Freaks

I didn't know this was based on a true story.

What's so freakish about eight people having legs?

Only one word is appropriate: (4, Funny)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869395)

EXPERIENCE!

Re:Only one word is appropriate: (4, Funny)

Cernst77 (816740) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869689)

As in you hit a Giant Spider with a bolt of lightning for 1,024 points of damage!

You have killed a Giant Spider!

You gain Experience!

Is that what you meant?

Re:Only one word is appropriate: (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870401)

Yeah. That. Or getting bit by one of them would be quite the experience. Take your pick.

I for one... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27869439)

...say g'day to our new tarantula overlords.

Re:I for one... (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870855)

Bowen, a coastal town about 700 miles northwest of Brisbane

Thankfully the town in question seems to be fairly isolated if the nearest city is 700 miles away.

Re:I for one... (1)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871129)

Are you kidding! That's only a 10 hour trip - hell I'm doing one of those tonight to go back to see my family for that slackest of holidays, Mothers Day. Also, side note, bowen seems to be fairly close to Townsville (at least looking at the google map) - Brisbane is just the state capitol, and probably the easiest point of reference for non-qld individuals.

Re:I for one... (2, Informative)

Pseudonym (62607) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871283)

Brisbane is the capital (and largest) city in the state of Queensland. The nearest cities are Mackay and Townsville; it's about half-way between them, about 100km each way.

More crucially, though, Bowen is in the middle of a fairly major tourist area, given that it's right next to the Great Barrier Reef. It's also had a larger influx of tourists recently because bits of Baz Lurhmann's Great Patriotic Extravagance were filmed there.

Re:I for one... (5, Interesting)

Pav (4298) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871417)

I live about 200km (~125 miles) from Bowen; in a small city called Townsville, Queensland - population 150,000. Brisbane is the capital city of this state, and maybe more likely to be known by an international audience(?). I could probably travel another 700km north through Cairns to Cooktown and still easily be in the state, although the roads would be getting bad. Australia has a lot of space per capita, so for example we have cattle stations (ie. ranches) larger than Texas. Bird eating spiders have fangs strong enough to penetrate a thumb nail. An old friend of mine from my university days has been telling me about occasionally meeting "whistling spiders" ie. the common name for these spiders because they make a hissing sound when they're agitated. She once met one threatening her poodle through a screen door. They caught and released it at a golf course, and could see this dark spot on the lawn running off into the distance as they drove away.

Re:I for one... (5, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871687)

A Texan farmer goes to Australia for a vacation. There he meets an Aussie farmer and gets talking. The Aussie shows off his big wheat field and the Texan says, "Oh! We have wheat fields that are at least twice as large".

Then they walk around the ranch a little, and the Aussie shows off his herd of cattle. The Texan immediately says, "We have longhorns that are at least twice as large as your cows".

The conversation has, meanwhile, almost died when the Texan sees a herd of kangaroos hopping through the field. He asks, "And what are those?" The Aussie replies with an incredulous look, "Don't you have any grasshoppers in Texas?"

Re:I for one... (1)

electrons_are_brave (1344423) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871845)

700kms isn't far enough away for this Brisbane girl. Especially when you think of all of those bananas and other fruits which are trucked south in a matter of hours. And due to the weather everything "tropical" is creeping south - including Ross River Virus and Fire Ants. It's not just the thought of a man-sized spider that's freaking me (and yes, I hear they grow THAT big), but the impact on all of our local (non-deadly) spiders. Mind you, dead poodles and frightened golfers would be the silver lining.

Think of the children! (1)

Myji Humoz (1535565) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869451)

According to the article, these things can kill a dog in a single bite. Even given that venomous spiders the size of an adult male's fist aren't really photogenic, (won't have some "humane solution" protesters) what can the town do about them? Poison all the possible breeding areas? Make a civil patrol with bug zappers? Should be interesting to see how it works out.

Re:Think of the children! (1)

sasha328 (203458) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869509)

"The tarantulas are fatal to dogs and cats; they bite people quite regularly; they're quite a painful bite."
No one is believed to have been harmed during the recent unusually high presence of the arachnoid in Bowen.

Source is from the ABC report on the story [abc.net.au]
The thing is, I live in Sydney, and I only herd about this story when I checked /.

Re:Think of the children! (5, Informative)

Matt_R (23461) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870121)

Re:Think of the children! (1)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869863)

According to the article, these things can kill a dog in a single bite. Even given that venomous spiders the size of an adult male's fist aren't really photogenic, (won't have some "humane solution" protesters) what can the town do about them? Poison all the possible breeding areas? Make a civil patrol with bug zappers? Should be interesting to see how it works out.

If this was Florida, this wouldn't be an issue. Giant spiders? Wouldn't be an issue, though the cleanup of the shotgun shells and beer cans might be...

Re:Think of the children! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869975)

Use a shop vac it suck them up, then drownd them.

Re:Think of the children! (1)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870115)

(imagines a shop vac like this):
http://www.madvac.com/images/photoGallery/61.1_LR.jpg [madvac.com]

I think 5-6 inches would probably clog anything smaller...

Plus, if you read the original article, they killed the thing with an entire CAN of bug spray. Gotta love how tough bugs are in Australia...

Re:Think of the children! (3, Funny)

icebrain (944107) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870261)

That shit's creepy, man... I'm going to wally world tonight and buying some .22 ratshot in case those things make it to the US... they freak the hell out of me.

And if the ratshot won't do it, 30 rounds of .223 will. I hope.

Re:Think of the children! (4, Informative)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870959)

According to the article, these things can kill a dog in a single bite. Even given that venomous spiders the size of an adult male's fist aren't really photogenic, (won't have some "humane solution" protesters) what can the town do about them? Poison all the possible breeding areas? Make a civil patrol with bug zappers? Should be interesting to see how it works out.

When the rain settles down they'll go away. Like they normally would. Don't see how this got to be news... We have more poisonous things that creep, crawl or slither than I'd care to name, but it's just part of the backdrop of where we live. Who cares? Certainly not news...

Re:Think of the children! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27871645)

According to the article, these things can kill a dog in a single bite.

Kill what, a Chihuahua?

My husky would probably eat it. She's like the USMC: she kills everything she sees [entertonement.com].

Come to Australia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27869481)

Re:Come to Australia... (4, Funny)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871031)

I left Australia to get away from the spiders, huntsman spiders in particular. (You'll have to google it yourself, I sure ain't doing it!) So I get to Asia only to find they have these harmless little orb spiders that hang from the trees with leg spans of about 20 cm. Then they have a replacement kind of huntsman, I have no idea what it's called, but these things are not docile like a huntsman, you spray them and they jump, like two feet high, towards you. Pricks. Who the hell invented these little bastards.

Fuck your fucking spiders! (4, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869489)

I just found a new use for "adblock image". Assholes.

Re:Fuck your fucking spiders! (4, Insightful)

g253 (855070) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869841)

Agreed. Could the interwebs please, please stop showing me pictures of gross disgusting huge spiders when I least expect it? Please?

Re:Fuck your fucking spiders! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27871213)

Could the interwebs please, please stop showing me pictures of gross disgusting huge spiders when I least expect it?

You clicked on "Giant Spiders Invade Australian Outback Town" and didn't expect to see photos of giant spiders?

Re:Fuck your fucking spiders! (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871247)

science.slashdot.org isn't a place where people might commonly expect to find pictures.

Re:Fuck your fucking spiders! (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870547)

Arachnophobia is a learned phobia, there is no reason to fear them from a natural point of view.

Yes some might bite you, but there are far greater dangers out there.

Re:Fuck your fucking spiders! (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870865)

How is it learned? I have no recollection of having ever been indoctrinated in to this blind terror that has me screaming like a school girl when confronted with any 8 legged creature bigger than 2 cm. Smaller than this, the screaming stops, but that irrational fear I can't seem to get over. Same for jelly fish.

I have not even the slightest fear of snakes. Even the deadly poisonous kind. Tiny little jumping spider though, that'll have me going out of my way to get around or away from it.

Re:Fuck your fucking spiders! (2, Interesting)

kramulous (977841) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870983)

I used to have a mild fear of spiders. I'm over it now.

See, where I used to live (North Queensland, Aus - not far from Bowen - where the story is) we had a *lot* of bugs, insects and other creepy crawlies. While watching TV late at night, there were these two massive huntsman spiders that used to come inside and hunt behind the tele. You get used to seeing them and realise that they are just doing their thing. Sure I had an elevated heart rate the first couple of times, but living where I did you realise that if something has gotta go (insects or you) is would be easier if it is you cause you'll never get rid of them.

It's quite fascinating watching them chase down moths. After a while I considered them my pets. Even the dog was a little wary of them.

Re:Fuck your fucking spiders! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27871291)

Huntsmen are great, nice spiders, no webs, never bite unless you're really asking for it and they get rid of insects. And sometimes you get one with only three legs left, and they lurch about in the most adorable way!

Re:Fuck your fucking spiders! (1)

FiveDozenWhales (1360717) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871457)

I don't know about that. Something about a chitinous, hairy, fast-moving critter that lurks in dark areas and may or may not bite you seems like a natural fear for a human--at the very least, for a human child, when fears tend to be the most important.

Re:Fuck your fucking spiders! (5, Informative)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871547)

Yes some might bite you, but there are far greater dangers out there.

Dropbears.

Dropbears are pretty damn dangerous. You can walk around, minding your own business, and then suddenly.

POW.

Another dropbear victim. They disappear as fast as they appear. Nobody is safe.

Nobody.

Not that big, or that venomous. (3, Informative)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869517)

They're only 6 inches across which means they're relatively small tarantulas, and they're not venomous enough to kill you, which by Australian standards is a blessing. And there aren't even that many---the article talks about people finding individual spiders. "It's not plague proportions but a number have been spotted around the district," according to Mr Geiszler. This is a non-story.

Re:Not that big, or that venomous. (1)

Andor666 (659649) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869743)

I feel that's scary anyway :

"While not deadly like other Australian spiders, the eastern tarantulas are venomous and can grow up to 6cm (2.4in) long with a leg span of 16cm (6.3in). Despite their common name, they do not eat birds, but can kill a dog with one bite, and make a human very sick.

They are also known as whistling or barking spiders for the hissing noise they emit when they are disturbed or aggravated at close range."

Re:Not that big, or that venomous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27869887)

A Sunday School teacher asks a boy where Pinckney was born. The boy answers "Allentown." The teacher corrects him, "No, it was Bethlehem." The boy replies, "Well, I knew it was some place along Rt. 22."

Moral of this? Fuck you Pinckney. That's the fucking moral.

Lets see how far this non-storey can get (4, Informative)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869917)

I see these spiders all the time, i use a broom to get them out of the house. You don't see me writing a fucking article in the local rag about it. Somehow it then got written up in the UK times (the Brits seem to love us Aussies) and then finally it got written up as a news storey on Slashdot.

WHAT THE HELL!?

Re:Not that big, or that venomous. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869939)

One bite will make a healthy adult very, very sick, It will kill young kids, large dogs, the elderly.

Re:Not that big, or that venomous. (5, Informative)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870093)

They're only 6 inches

CENTIMETERS!!!!
They are 6 CENTIMETERS! We Australians were one of the first to convert to metric and that's a metric ruler in the article.

/Just in case you thought this article had any worthyness whatsoever.

Re:Not that big, or that venomous. (2, Insightful)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870883)

They are 6 CENTIMETERS! We Australians were one of the first to convert to metric and that's a metric ruler in the article.

You are correct. However, I meant the leg span, which is 16cm (6.3 inches), as it is the measurement that arachnophiles tend to use when comparing the size of spiders. The length of the body tells relatively little, as the shape varies so dramatically from family to family, or even from genus to genus.

Re:Not that big, or that venomous. (1)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871227)

Ahh fair enough, you did say across and that it was small, i should have relised.
In any case doesn't hurt to reiterate that this article has no worth.

Re:Not that big, or that venomous. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27871409)

Do you call adopting the metric system in the 1980's early for a system that's been around a couple hundred years?

Re:Not that big, or that venomous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27871053)

The article is even worse than just that.
"Despite their common name, they do not eat birds," .... except they do.

Most birdspiders don't attack unless you force them to.

They're hardly giant either.It's not like they're Theraphosa blondis...

Paperweight (1)

sakonofie (979872) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869521)

Best quote from the article:

Asked what he would do with the giant spider he caught this week, Mr Geiszler said: âoeI think Iâ(TM)m going to mount this one in acrylic to show people how big it is. Itâ(TM)ll make a great paperweight.â

Giant shiny spider paperweight!

i just got off the toilet (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27869567)

i shit out an obama.

plop!

FUCK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27869595)

DON'T FUCKING post the picture. Are you mad?

Re:FUCK (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869987)

I agree. I was prepared, and the instant my brain registered that there was a photo, I scrolled down. (It's the whole train-wreck thing. I am truly phobic of spiders, but I had to read. Now I'm afraid to scroll back up to try to actually read the story part.)

Ruler in photo (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869613)

I hope the ruler in the photo is in centimeters and not inches. Otherwise we'll need to make room for all those Australian refugees. Scary shit!

Hell, right on the heels of Star Trek, this is a (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869653)

chance for Shatner to redo Kingdom of the Spiders..... but, in ESPERANTO...

Story overhyped by Media (5, Informative)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869705)

Story sounds like typical Media hype and exaggeration: Tarantulas are venomous in the way all spiders are venomous (and Bee's too! Venomous Bees == normal Bees.) This type of spider venom isn't harmful to humans and they're not aggressive spiders. This is why they let them crawl over kids at Wildlife parks. Oh BTW despite calling them bird-eating spiders it's rare for them to eat birds. Plus if you did into the article you'll see the unlabeled scale of that photo is centimeters and not inches. 5 centmetres. I have wolf spiders > 10 cm running around and often through my home. They're shy of people, never even came close to being bitten and they eat cockroaches.

If they're having a "spider plague" in Bowen then there must be lots of roaches, locusts or other insects. Let them be.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarantula [wikipedia.org]

This shock story will get web hits and the reporter will get a pat on the back. But ll note the COUGH COUGH journalist didn't even bother talking to anyone from the local University; Just the local "Pest Controller" who is trying to whip up business. They're probably Wolf spiders anyway, not "Bird Eaters". The media should stop trying to whip this up and go back to what they do best: Reporting false wiki quotes by Jean-Michel Jarre.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_spider [wikipedia.org]

Re:Story overhyped by Media (2, Funny)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870123)

I have wolf spiders > 10 cm running around and often through my home.

Giant Wolf-Eating Spiders, More Than Twice The Size of Bird-Eating Spiders, Invade Area Resident's Home! :)

Re:Story overhyped by Media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27870219)

:D

Re:Story overhyped by Media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27870817)

Just wait until they hear about Monkey Spiders

Re:Story overhyped by Media (3, Funny)

ignavus (213578) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870413)

Oh BTW despite calling them bird-eating spiders it's rare for them to eat birds.

As in "scores of 'bird-eating humans' descended upon a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet..."

Re:Story overhyped by Media (1)

Thornburg (264444) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870695)

I have wolf spiders > 10 cm running around and often through my home.

I agree with your overall point that the story is a massive exaggeration, but then again...

The wikipedia link you posted says Wolf Spiders don't grow to more than 3cm... so either those aren't Wolf Spiders running around your house or you're rather prone to exaggeration yourself.

Re:Story overhyped by Media (1)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871089)

The wikipedia link you posted says Wolf Spiders don't grow to more than 3cm... so either those aren't Wolf Spiders running around your house or you're rather prone to exaggeration yourself.

Or the wikipedia page is just wrong. He's probably got Carolina Wolf Spiders, which can grow substantially larger [petbugs.com].

Re:Story overhyped by Media (2, Funny)

zenneth (767572) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871461)

I have wolf spiders > 10 cm running around and often through my home.

Remind me to never spend the night at your place.

I did NOT RTFA... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#27869723)

...I saw the movie and its numerous remakes and the weird twisted version that involved mutant sheep.

Shudder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27870029)

Since no one else seems to have gotten to it in so many words, may I be the first to say:

Bleeechhuuggh

Giant??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27870043)

That's actually a pretty normal size for a tarantula. I had one as a pet when I was a kid.

We used to see lots of them in Arkansas 40 years ago, but they are very rare now. Instead we have armadillos :-(

I hope this spirals out of conrtol (2, Funny)

docbrody (1159409) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870047)

In a perfect world, this would start with media hype, and then some how turn into a real, full-blown spider epidemic.

ohhh whacking day, ohh whacking day... (2, Funny)

meliux (630093) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870085)

Perfect excuse for an Arachnid Whacking Day if ever I heard one.

In other news... (4, Funny)

hedgemage (934558) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870215)

A small Australian town has been over run by first level adventurers who came to farm easy XP.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27870567)

local shoe stores have seen a 300% increase in sales since last week.

If one bites you, will you get powers? (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 4 years ago | (#27870679)

Climbing walls, spinning webs, that sort of thing?

Re:If one bites you, will you get powers? (2, Funny)

Phizzle (1109923) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871473)

According to wiki, the only power you get is vomiting, and it only lasts for six hours. Hardly seems worth it.

Interesting factoid about Aussie spiderwebs (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27870707)

Austrailian spiders spin their webs in the counter-clockwise direction, the complete opposite of the clockwise webs American spiders spin.

samzenpus go back to idle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27871351)

I've seen someone post before that all samzenpus does is put up shit articles.
Since then I've been paying a little more attention, and have come to the conclusion that he was right.

All his submissions are at best idle material, and that's being generous.

Clever media misdirection! Male spiders screwed! (1)

Phizzle (1109923) | more than 4 years ago | (#27871439)

The Great Media Conspiracy would have us believe that the Australian Eastern Tarantulas are thriving. I would like to draw your attention to the grim reality that is being hidden from the public!

1. The Eastern Tarantulas, instead of being referred to by their proper Phlogius crassipes name, have been given a bunch of condescending prejudicial nick-names like Barking spiders, Bird-eating spiders and Whistling spiders.
Thats right - Bird-eating, not Allegedly Bird-eating!

2. I also find it appalling that there is little to no mention of the plight of the male spiders. The fact that the females live up to thirty years, and the males only up to eight years is completely glossed over by The Media!

I don't know about the rest of you, but I think its about time for some RESPONSIBLE journalism!
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