The newly discovered species of arachnid – yet to be given a scientific name – has taken over the remote town of Maningrida, around 300 miles east of Darwin, in Northern Territory.
The venomous bite of the tarantula can kill a small animal and can induce nausea and vomiting in humans. Meanwhile the spider’s sharp fangs can rip apart the flesh of its victims.
Spider expert Dr Robert Raven believes the presence of the eight-legged crawlers may offer a blessing in disguise as the venom will be used in medical research. But even he concedes that the situation in Maningrida is not normal.
“Normally, I find two or three hundred spiders in one spot,” he said, quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald. “Presumably, something is missing that would hammer them, or there is something good (like a food source).”
He added that one person bitten by one of the spiders had suffered up to eight hours of vomiting. “These are not shallow bites. Long fangs can potentially do damage by ripping tissue.”
And just for good measure the tarantulas – known as ‘diving spiders’ – can also survive under water by forming protective air bubbles to stop them drowning. Oh joy…