5 Horrific Things You Didn't Know Spiders Can Do To You
Who doesn't love spiders? They way they squeak and tremble ever so slightly as you hold them on your lap and gently run your fingers through their fur. Hold up ... I was thinking of guinea pigs. Spiders? They're the goddamn worst. These terrifying, weird abominations trigger our primal dread, and behave with brutality that all god-fearing folk abhor. And yet they continue to find ways to surprise us ...
WARNING: If you are terrified of spiders, it should be more than obvious that this is not the article for you. Also, if you enjoy weird and alarming things, there are a bunch in my new book, on sale now!)
Spiders Are Perfectly At Home In Your Ear
Of all the theoretical worst-case scenarios that could happen to someone living on planet Earth, like a viral pandemic or intelligent simian uprising, discovering that a spider has taken up residence in your ear canal is definitely in the top tier. But something like that could never really happen, right?
One might think that such a direct invasion of the homo sapiens control center would set off every alarm at our instinctual disposal. Yet when such a cochlear infiltration befell a woman in Vietnam, she was merely compelled to visit her doctor to complain about a mysterious pain. The answer to that mystery turned out to be a wolf spider that had decided to live in her head rent-free.
Elsewhere in arachnid auditory trespassing news, a woman in China heard "scratching" sounds inside her head that she feared were evil spirits, but which turned out to be a spider going all Matthew McConaughey on her eardrum. Meanwhile, a "swooshing" sound recently revealed the unwanted presence of a brown recluse in the ear of a woman in Kansas City, Missouri.
Not even our most treasured resource, obscure British musical celebrities, are safe from cranial incursions by fanged chelicerates. Singer/songwriter Katie Melua required a spider to be extracted from her ear via miniature vacuum cleaner after a "rustling" sound alerted her to the fact that one had relocated to her head, supposedly from a pair of earbuds. Presumably they were one of those cheap off-brand varieties that don't bother to make sure their products are completely spider-free before offering them to consumers. Pay extra for Best Buy's Spider Check; it's worth it.
Related: The Arachnophobic Guide To Spiders
Spiders Are Killing Possum-Sized Prey
We've previously mentioned how some spiders are able to dispatch prey (like bats, for example) that most people assume would be way out of their league. And instead of resting on their creepy laurels, it seems that they're only advancing further along the evolutionary ladder in search of higher life forms to butcher. So far, from what we can gather, they've made their way up to marsupials.
The perpetrator in this gruesome circumstance (which took place in broad daylight in front of mortified guests at a Tasmanian ski lodge) was a huntsman spider, and the victim was an Australian pygmy possum. Nothing like the hissing, unpleasant "stop poking me I'm dead" North American version, this variety is considerably more adorable. They're a fast and clever species, and a decidedly more difficult quarry than, say, a mouse. Yet this one was clearly no match for a predator that evolution hasn't even seen fit to give a spine yet. Speaking of mice, though, you can watch a pretty huge one being carried around by a huntsman like a box lunch:
The Land Down Under isn't the only place possums are getting wrecked by spiders. Just this year, nauseated observers in Peru spotted an aggravated tarantula assault that was described as "what could be the first case of a spider eating an opossum." They labeled it this because possums and opossums are totally different varieties of potential spider chow. Or maybe they're mercifully trying to stagger the reports so as not to instigate widespread panic in the cat and dog population.
Daddy Longlegs Hide In Plain Sight As Gigantic Hairballs
Simmer down, we're fully aware that daddy longlegs aren't technically spiders, but hey, they're close enough. The order of arachnids known as harvestmen hit that instinctual willies switch just as effectively as their cousins. And if you have any doubts about that, try to stifle the increasingly robust waves of squirms while watching this:
You don't have to trek to some dank, godforsaken jungle purgatory to witness what appears to be a large clump of fur transforming into a Tim Burton credits sequence. The above clip came from suburban Mexico. And below, you can see a herd assimilating a trash can in Texas. According to the unfortunate resident, the creatures are there every time he has to take out the trash, but only seem to gather on one particular bin -- presumably the one that has three 6's in a row in the serial number.
So why do they do this? Experts aren't exactly sure. It might be so that they can all let loose "powerful repugnatory secretions" in unison when they detect a nearby predator. But what we do know is that the ones in the middle latch onto a surface with their mouths while those making up the outer perimeter hang onto the improvised insecto-beard with their horrid spindly legs. Hey, why not just shove your hand right in there?
Spiders Can Assault You With Projectiles
As long as you're able to maintain distance from your eight-legged foe and stay out of range of its limited ability to pounce, you should be able to claim the advantage, correct? Well, that might hold true with the average spider, but not for the ones that have been furtively developing projectile ordnance. Below is either an example of that, or just what happens when a spider eats bad clams:
That's right, llamas aren't the only disagreeable fauna that can hawk a loogie. The spitting spider hasn't yet perfected airborne weaponry that can take out a human's eyeball, but remember we're likely in the early evolutionary stages here. What it can do is spew a mixture of webbing and venom skyward in a zigzagging arc, similar to an episode Peter Parker may have experienced alone in his room during adolescence. And the flying goop actually shrinks on contact to immobilize prey so the spider can close in for the stab.
As mentioned, the spitting spider poses no threat to mankind at this point, but there are species with the capability to rain grievous injury into the corneas of the unwary. Like tarantulas -- that fuzz covering its body isn't a snuggling adaptation. They have the ability to fully weaponize those filaments into tiny face-seeking instruments of blinding pain. They'll just flick them right into your eyeballs.
And that pain often isn't the sort that fades away in a couple hours or a day. An encounter with urticating tarantula dander can cause lingering damage to ocular tissue, possibly permanently. The hairs are too small to be plucked out by hand, so it's recommended that those who keep the animals as pets wear eye protection when handling them. Or, you know, just get a goddamn puppy, you freak.
Spiders Can Put A Hole In You The Size Of A Gunshot
WARNING: Somewhat gross images to follow, do not read while eating.
We all know there are certain spider species out there with bites capable of killing humans. But surviving an injection of arachnid venom can sometimes be so awful that their victims might wish they had simply been granted a quick death. Not only are the beasts maiming Voice contestants and sidelining our recovering alcoholic golfers, but one of the side effects of having a spider sink its fangs into you can be a gaping chasm where flesh used to be.
Meghan Linsey, the singer from The Voice up there who looks like she narrowly bested a mountain lion in combat, actually got away relatively easy compared to what some spider bite victims have had to endure. The venom from some spiders, such as the brown recluse (that's the species that you might remember popping up in that Missouri woman's ear), can cause red blood cells to explode. This initiates a sort of tissue suicide as the body tries to fight the toxic invasion, turning the surrounding tissue black with necrosis. After a while, you may be left looking like a stormtrooper with a cavernous cauterized laser rifle wound, waiting to be triaged at a First Order M.A.S.H unit.
If you're thinking "Bah, that's not so bad," please note that we had to intentionally avoid images that were too awful to look at while still conveying the severity. If you're the kind of sick bastard who needs to see the real stuff, please enjoy a nice hot cup of THIS. Oh, and sip a little of THIS too, while you're at it.
Often, the only possible treatment after such a heinous incident is a skin graft, which generally isn't something you expect after simply brushing away a half-inch critter skittering across your arm. But maybe you'll get lucky and just come away with an all-encompassing body rash, which is another possible outcome from an encounter with a recluse. Or you might wind up writhing in puddles of sweat after a widow spider causes your muscles to go haywire and contract over and over again. But hey, it's not all bad. Maybe you'll win the venom lottery after a run-in with a Brazilian wandering spider and come out of it with a painful four-hour erection.
For more, check out 5 Animals Who Can't Hide Their Disdain For People - Spit Take Theater:
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