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Giant Spiders Invade Australian Outback Town 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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Giant Spiders Invade Australian Outback Town

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  • by VinylRecords ( 1292374 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @06:11PM (#27869371)

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

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

  • by Datamonstar ( 845886 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @06:14PM (#27869395)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 07, 2009 @06:15PM (#27869439)

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Chabo ( 880571 )

      I say we try to stomp em with The Boot.

    • 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.
      • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Pseudonym ( 62607 )

        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... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Pav ( 4298 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @08:46PM (#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.
        • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @09:10PM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

        by tcolberg ( 998885 )
        Nuke 'em from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday May 07, 2009 @06:19PM (#27869489) Homepage Journal

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

    • by g253 ( 855070 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @06:40PM (#27869841) Homepage
      Agreed. Could the interwebs please, please stop showing me pictures of gross disgusting huge spiders when I least expect it? Please?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 07, 2009 @08:24PM (#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?

        • by adolf ( 21054 )

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

    • by Krneki ( 1192201 )
      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.
      • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by kramulous ( 977841 )

          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 realis

      • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @08:56PM (#27871547)

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


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


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


  • by Pinckney ( 1098477 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @06:21PM (#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.

  • . . . coming soon, to a neighborhood near you? Hopefully, Tamiflu will be able cure that as well . . .

  • 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!

  • Fallout 3 (Score:5, Funny)

    by pm_rat_poison ( 1295589 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @06:31PM (#27869683)
    This piece of news sounds more like Galaxy News Radio material than slashdot. Does the Lone Wanderer know about the situation?
  • by CuteSteveJobs ( 1343851 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @06:32PM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bob9113 ( 14996 )

      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! :)

    • by ignavus ( 213578 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @07:19PM (#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..."

    • 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.

      • 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: (Score:2, Funny)

      by zenneth ( 767572 )

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

      Remind me to never spend the night at your place.

    • This shock story will get web hits and the reporter will get a pat on the back.

      Paid by the pun are we? ;)

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

  • Pest Controller in Australia has to rate right down there ...
  • In a perfect world, this would start with media hype, and then some how turn into a real, full-blown spider epidemic.
  • Sounds familiar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Thursday May 07, 2009 @06:55PM (#27870063)

    Reminds me of when my home town hosted a political convention.

  • Perfect excuse for an Arachnid Whacking Day if ever I heard one.
  • by hedgemage ( 934558 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @07:04PM (#27870215)
    A small Australian town has been over run by first level adventurers who came to farm easy XP.
  • Spiders are related to crabs and lobsters, so I want to find some that are big enough to make a decent burger, or at least a crab-cake equivalent.

  • America's spider basher [gocomics.com].
  • HEY! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Creepy Crawler ( 680178 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @07:40PM (#27870683)

    large and deadly creepy crawlies

    HEY! I take offense to that!

    im not THAT deadly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 07, 2009 @07:41PM (#27870707)

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

  • ...but I can't find it on imdb?
  • Maybe the Austrailian authorities should import something like a giant Cane Toad to eat all the spiders? What could be the harm in that? Oh wait... they already tried that. Maybe the spiders will eat the cane toads...

  • It may be *a* bird eating spider, but not the one most often referred to in the press. That would be the "Golden Orb Weaver" spider. I offer the following as proof:

    http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/bird-eating-spiders-australias-giant-golden-orb-weaver [trendhunter.com]

  • by RepelHistory ( 1082491 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @12:49AM (#27872701)
    Quoting author David Wong here...

    There exists in this world a spider the size of a dinner plate, a foot wide if you include the legs. It's called the Goliath Bird-Eating spider, or the "Goliath Fucking Bird-Eating Spider" by those who have actually seen one.

    It doesn't eat only birds - it mostly eats rats and insects - but they still call it the "Bird-Eating Spider" because the fact that it can eat a bird is probably the most important thing to know about it. If you run across one of these things, like in your closet or crawling out of your bowl of soup, the first thing somebody will say is, "Watch it, man, that thing can eat a fucking bird."

    I don't know how they catch the birds. I know the Goliath Fucking Bird-Eating Spider can't fly because if it could, it would have a different name entirely. We would call it "Sir" because it would be the dominant species on the planet. None of us would leave the house unless a Goliath Fucking Flying Bird-Eating Spider said it was okay.

  • why? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Eil ( 82413 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @01:43AM (#27873007) Homepage Journal

    Goddamn you, Slashdot. Not 10 minutes ago, a spider literally jumped onto me and then jumped away under the desk before I could catch the thing. And then you post a story like this right before I go to bed.

    Goddamn you, Slashdot.

  • by CmdrGravy ( 645153 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @04:01AM (#27873775) Homepage

    This is almost completely off topic but I visited Magnetic Island once which is the same general area as Bowen and one afternoon I saw a sign advertising a Kangaroo & Wild Animal Sanctuary which, bored of the beach, I decided to visit hoping to learn something about Kangaroos and other native Australian creatures.

    The sanctuary was at the end of a dusty track and turned out to be a collection of dilapidated shacks and some worn out fencing surrounded by trees. Having rung the bell at the turnstile to summon an attendant my friend and I were already having our doubts about the place which were only heightened by the appearance of a jolly old crone who told us she was the owner of the sanctuary and would be happy to show us around.

    The smaller kangeroos were in cages and shacks dotted around the property with a couple of paddocks with groups of kangeroos in them.

    "What sort of Kangeroos are these ?" we asked
    "Ah, you know the sort that lives around here" she replied
    "Right ?"
    "Yeah, I mean really there's lots of kangeroos round here you might have seen some running around on your way up. All I do when I'm running out in the sanctuary is go out and trap a few and put them in the paddock so I don't go for any particular sort just whatever's about but you can see I've got the big ones in there and then the smaller ones in the sheds so you can get up close to them."

    She also had a talking parrot in a cage she wanted us to meet and her annoying little yapping dog which had been following us around was also told to come and see the parrot because apparently they got on like a house on fire.

    "He usually talks" she said banging on the side of his cage "Go on you bugger say something !"

    The parrot was just staring out the dog which had stopped yapping and was beginning to look nervous.

    Bang ! Bang ! Bang ! "Ah well the buggers staying quiet today alright but listen I need to get back to the TV but you blokes just have a look round and let yourselves out OK"

    Once the crone had left the Parrot sideled up to the dog and said
    "Fuck off bugger" and the dog started yapping at it so the parrot started laughing at it and then gnashed it's beak and said "Come here bugger I'll have you !". The dog whimpered and ran off and the parrot told us to "Fuck Off !" so we did.

  • by smoker2 ( 750216 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @05:03AM (#27874107) Homepage Journal
    I visited Rottnest Island [google.co.uk], just off the coast of Perth WA, and was happily wandering about when I saw what looked like a spiders web. It was pretty big, maybe 10 feet across, stretched between 2 bushes. So I went over to have a closer look. Imagine my surprise when I found the resident. [headru.sh]
    This bugger [headru.sh] was about 18 inches across (leg span) and pretty mean looking. I would have put my hand in the photo for scale, but, well you know ...

    So 6 cm (< 2.5 inches) is not a big spider.

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? -- Charlie McCarthy