Creepy crawlers of all sorts have been in the news this week, starting with the emergence of crowds of enormous eastern tarantulas. Known as “birdeating spiders” despite the fact that they don’t typically dine on  avians, the huge arachnids have become troublingly prevalent in the small Australian town of Bowen. Today saw officials attempting to put a happy face on the matter after an initial media freakout at the notion of a city overrun by giant tarantulas effectively shut down tourism in the town. Apparently, the thought of hairy spiders as big as your head that can sicken humans and kill dogs with their venomous bite is bad for business. Local pest controller Audy Geiszler, for one, is doing his part to quell rumors of a ful blown spider invasion by concentrating on the good news – for example, says Geiszler, the town has seen “no cases of them eating children or anything like that.” Which is good news, I guess. But someone should tell Mr. Geiszler that the next time he’s trying to calm a worried public, he might want to pause before he plays the ‘No Children Have Yet Been Consumed By Enormous Spiders’ card. 

Meanwhile, farmers in China’s Xinjiang province are under siege by legions of unidentified worms. The thorny, green, inch long beasties, are going through grassland like a giant organic lawnmower, turning pasture into brown soil acres at a time. Found in densities of up to 3,000 creatures per meter of soil, the creatures have descended on the village in such numbers that 50 families have had to flee their homes, which were also overrun.

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From the Department of  Things You Didn’t Really Need Another Reason to Be Scared Of, comes this surprising factoid on arachnid physiology. 

French researcher Julien Petillon knew that spiders were hard critters to drown, but he quite reasonably wanted to find out just how deep this defense against grim aquatic death ran. So, Petillon did what any reasonable person would do and started drowning wolf spiders.

Now, the fact that the marsh dwelling spiders took a full 24 hours of submersion to drown should be unnerving enough to send any right thinking person into a fit of the heebiest jeebies. But what happened next is an episode woven from strands of pure nightmare. From Discovery News:

As they lay drying in Petillion’s laboratory at the University of Rennes in France, something odd happened: the ‘dead’ spiders began to twitch. First one small movement, then another — before long the salt marsh spiders were skittering about as though nothing had happened.

Just something to think about next time you try and flush an eight legged home invader down the drain.