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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 Niris ( 1443675 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @07:14PM (#27869399) [] Yay for giant spider flicks. Side note: Clint Eastwoods first film!
  • by Pinckney ( 1098477 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @07:21PM (#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.

  • by CuteSteveJobs ( 1343851 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @07:32PM (#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. []

    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. []

  • by SpazmodeusG ( 1334705 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @07:45PM (#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.

  • by SpazmodeusG ( 1334705 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @07:56PM (#27870093)

    They're only 6 inches

    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.

  • by Matt_R ( 23461 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @07:58PM (#27870121) Homepage
  • by dov_0 ( 1438253 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @09:01PM (#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:I for one... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @09:32PM (#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.

  • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @09:56PM (#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.


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

    by hajus ( 990255 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @02:31AM (#27872941)

    Yes, there is an upper limit to the size of insects due to their respiration. They breathe through their skin via osmosis and not via lungs. So if they grow too big, the central part of their body doesn't get oxygen. However, these are spiders we are talking about (not insects), and I don't think this applies to arachnids.

    There was a dinosaur discussion a while back on slashdot in which someone was saying the reason that insects were so large back then (before dinosaurs I think) was because the oxygen concentration was higher at the time.

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @02:33AM (#27872961) Homepage Journal

    Or flame throwers, napalm, etc.

    But seriously, tarantulas may be annoying, but they aren't what most people would call poisonous. This particular one is among the worst, as it can cause several hours of vomiting in humans; it won't kill you, but you might wish you were dead. :-) And they can kill pets. Fortunately, they are also not particularly aggressive towards people. You have to really, really piss off a tarantula to get bitten. We used to pick up tarantulas (not this particular species) and let them crawl around on us as kids. They look scary, but in general if you don't bother them, they won't bother you.

  • Correction (Score:5, Informative)

    by Smivs ( 1197859 ) <> on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:19AM (#27874559) Homepage Journal

    They breathe through their skin via osmosis and not via lungs.

    Sorry to be pedantic, but spiders do not breathe by osmosis! Osmosis is a mechanism (normally involving liquids) where salts can pass through a semi-permeable membrane from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration, to achieve equelibrium.
    Spiders (and insects etc) actually breathe through small holes in their sides called spiracles. These lead to small air-tubes (brachia?) which run throughout the body. The air is moved around the body by the normal movements of the animal. If you watch a spider or insect at rest you can see it 'pulsing' slightly. It is this action which allows it to respirate.

  • Re:I for one... (Score:3, Informative)

    by totally bogus dude ( 1040246 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @07:49AM (#27874741)

    One thing that always annoyed me about huntsman [] spiders is that they do, in fact, chase you around. I think they have a climbing instinct, and when they're sitting on a floor they really really want to climb something; and if a person happens to be nearby it must look like a tree or something equally climbable.

    I've noticed it a few times, but one time in particular I remember was in our tiled entry (which was basically just a room that happened to have the front door to the house) and I was trying to catch a huntsman that had ended up on the floor. I guess I was a bit slow and it started moving about, coming straight for me. Slightly freaky but I figured it was just a chance thing, so I backed off and it kept coming, then when I ran out of room I stepped over it to give some space. So it stopped, turned around, and started running toward me again.

    That continued for some time, but it eventually stopped. I guess it was starting to wonder why that tree was so difficult to get to and wanted to have a think about it for a while. So I used that opportunity to catch it and relocate it. Again I don't think it was aggressive or anything, it wasn't showing any signs of aggression. Pretty sure if I'd let it reach me it would've just started scaling me, rather than trying to eat me. Still, I didn't particularly want it to do either.

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

    by Zey ( 592528 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @08:44AM (#27875179)

    The Aussie shows off his big wheat field and the Texan says, "Oh! We have wheat fields that are at least twice as large".

    I doubt it [] ;-)

    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".

    Not quite twice the size, but, they're a larger breed. Mind you, Australia has the world's largest cattle station [] :-)

    The conversation has, meanwhile, almost died [...]

    I'm not surprised. It must be tough when you're always having to compensate for the small size of your teensy tiny little State ;-)

    Western Australia: Area 2,645,615 km
    Queensland, Australia: Area 1,730,648 km
    Northern Territory, Australia: Area 1,349,129 km
    Alaska, USA: Area 1,717,854 km
    South Australia: Area 983,482 km
    New South Wales, Australia: Area 800,642 km
    Texas, USA: Area 695,622 km

  • by amoeba1911 ( 978485 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @09:56AM (#27875917) Homepage

    Ever seen how many baby spiders come out of a spider egg?

    Yes, only one baby spider comes out of a spider egg. But there maybe hundreds of eggs in an egg sac.

  • by Civil_Disobedient ( 261825 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @10:31AM (#27876377)

    But like I said, totally harmless to people... not poisonous[...]

    Slight clarification: No spiders are poisonous. All spiders are venomous (well, technically there are a couple of species without venom glands, but the other 99.9% do have them). Of course, the number of species that are actually dangerous is something like 0.05% of the entire population (one-twentieth of one percent).

    Apologies for pedantry.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger