Petar Petrov/AP

Tarantula Invasion Overblown, but More, Bigger Spiders May Be in Store

May 08, 2009 10:30 AM
by Haley A. Lovett
The sensationalized “invasion” of “bird-eating” spiders in an Australian town may someday be a reality for other towns, as scientists say that global warming may produce more, larger spiders.

Australia “Invasion” All Hype; Spiders in Greenland Getting Bigger

The story of the Queensland town of Bowen being invaded by “giant spiders” made headlines this week, but the man who runs the pest control center in the town now says that the reports were overblown.

“There have been no more than 10 sightings here” Audy Geiszler, the Bowen pest controller, told the Bisbane Times. 

The eastern tarantulas, which the Times Online called “bird-eating spiders,” are venomous and can have a leg span of about six inches. Geiszler said that the spiders usually hide and have little contact with humans, but have been crawling out of hiding because of recent heavy rains. A bite from the spiders could kill a small animal or dog, but would only make a human sick.

And while the Australian “invasion” was overblown, scientists in Greenland have found that at least one spider seems to be getting bigger.

A group of Danish researchers studied the wolf spider of Greenland and found that longer summers led to larger spiders. According to National Geographic, the meat-eating species, pardosa glacialis, was on average larger during longer summers, and smaller during shorter summers. At the end of a 10-year study the researchers found that the average adult spider exoskeleton had increased in thickness by 2 percent, a substantial growth.

The researchers think that warmer and longer summers caused by global warming will not only mean that the spiders will get bigger, but that there will be more spiders overall because females will be better suited for reproduction.

Related Topic: Ants attack electronics in Texas

“Crazy rasberry ants” made their way to Houston via cargo ships in 2002 and have since spread to other counties in Texas. The ants are attracted to electronics such as computers and fire alarms and have been known to cause short circuits and other problems. They are quite hard to kill; many traditional pesticides fail, and the ants have been known to pile bodies of dead ants in order to get over a barrier or a poison.

Reference: global warming


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