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Arachnid and Snake Spoofs,
Urban Legends, Hoaxes
and Other Odd Stories


Don't forget to look !!!

Aliases: Toilet Spiders, Butt Spiders, Blush Spiders
Status: False.
Variants: Leeds/Bradford

Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]

"This is really scary...

According to an article by Dr. Beverly Clark, in the Journal of the United Medical Association (JUMA), the mystery behind a recent spate of deaths has been solved.

If you haven't already heard about it in the news, here is what happened. 

3 women in Chicago, turned up at hospitals over a 5 day period, all with the same symptoms. Fever, chills, and vomiting, followed by muscular collapse, paralysis, and finally, death. There were no outward signs of trauma. Autopsy results showed toxicity in the blood. These women did not know each other, and seemed to have nothing in common. It was discovered, however, that they had all visited the same restaurant (Big Chappies, at
Blare Airport), within days of their deaths.

The health department descended on the restaurant, shutting it down. The food, water, and air conditioning were all inspected and tested, to no avail. The big break came when a waitress at the restaurant was rushed to the hospital with similar symptoms. She told doctors that she had been on vacation, and had only went to the restaurant to pick up her check.

She did not eat or drink while she was there, but had used the restroom.

That is when one toxicologist, remembering an article he had read, drove out to the restaurant, went into the restroom, and lifted the toilet seat. Under the seat, out of normal view, was small spider.

The spider was captured and brought back to the lab, where it was determined to be the South American Blush Spider (arachnius gluteus), so named because of its reddened flesh color. This spider's venom is extremely toxic, but can take several days to take effect. They live in cold, dark, damp,climates, and toilet rims provide just the right atmosphere. Several days later a lawyer from Los Angeles showed up at a hospital emergency room. Before his death, he told the doctor, that he had been away on business, had taken a flight from New York, changing planes in Chicago, before returning home. He did not visit Big Chappies while there. He did, as did all of the other victims, have what was determined to be a puncture wound, on his right buttock. Investigators discovered that the flight he was on had originated in South America. The Civilian Aeronautics Board (CAB) ordered an immediate inspection of the toilets of all flights from South America, and discovered the Blush spider's nests on 4 different planes! It is now believed that these spiders can be anywhere in the country.

So please, before you use a public toilet, lift the seat to check for spiders.

It can save your life!

And please pass this on to everyone you care about."

New Variant reported March 2000 below:

Subject: CHECKING THE TOILET SEATS

PLEASE READ and pass on this is a life or death situation

According to an article by Dr. Beverly Clark, in the Journal of the
British Medical Association (JUMA), the mystery behind a recent spate of 
deaths has been solved. If you haven't already heard about it in the
news, here is what happened.

3 women in Leeds, turned up at hospitals over a 5 day period, all with
the same symptoms. Fever, chills, and vomiting, followed by muscular
collapse, paralysis, and finally, death. There were no outward signs of
trauma.

Autopsy results showed toxicityin the blood. These women did not know
each other, and seemed to have nothing in common. It was discovered,
however, that they had all visited the same restaurant (Stoops, Yeadon
Airport), within days of their deaths. The health department descended
on the restaurant, shutting it down. The food, water, and air
conditioning were all inspected and tested, to no avail.

The big break came when a waitress at the restaurant was rushed to the
hospital with similar symptoms. She told doctors that she had been on
vacation, and had only went to the restaurant to pick up her wage.

She did not eat or drink while she was there, but had used the ladies
room. That is when one toxicologist, remembering an article he had read,
drove out to the restaurant, went into the restroom, and lifted the
toilet seat.

Under the seat, out of normal view, was small spider. The spider was
captured and brought back to the lab, where it was determined to be the
South American Blush Spider (arachnius gluteus), so named because of its
reddened flesh color. This spider's venom is extremely toxic, but can
take several days to take effect.

They live in cold, dark, damp, climates, and toilet rims provide just the
right atmosphere. Several days later a lawyer from London showed up at a
hospital emergency room.

Before his death, he told the doctor, that he had been away on
business, had caught a return flight from New York to Leeds/Bradford
Airport before changing planes to return home to London.

Although he did not visit The Stoops while there. He did, as did all of
the other victims, have what was determined to be a puncture wound, on
his right buttock. Investigators discovered that the flight he was on
had originated in South America.

The Civilian Aeronautics Board (CAB) ordered an immediate
inspection of the toilets of all flights from and to Leeds/Bradford
Airport from America, and discovered the Blush spider's nests on 4
different planes! It is now beleived that these spiders can be
anywhere in the world.

So please, before you use a public toilet, lift the seat to check for
spiders. It can save your life! And please pass this on to everyone you
care about.

Here's the truth...:
This was quickly debunked by Chuck Kristensen of the arachnology mailing list ; no such article in Medline, no such journal, no such spider.

Also:

  • There is no spider genus 'arachnius,' nor is there a spider named 'arachnius gluteus.' (apparently intended to be translated as "butt spider").

  • There is no 'Journal of the United Medical Association.'

  • There is no Blare Airport in Chicago.

  • There is no 'Big Chappies' restaurant in Chicago.

  • No doctor named Dr. Beverly Clark has published articles in any medical journal.

  • There is such a thing as a blush spider, but guess what – it's a cosmetological term referring to patches of tiny varicose veins on the surface of the skin. (see picture and details below).

Spider Veins aka Blush Spider Veins

Individuals seeking treatment of spider veins, whether on the face, around the nose or on the thighs and legs, often inquire about various techniques to eradicate these apparent blood vessels. The 'Real' Blush SpiderThe treatment of spider veins is very selective and dependant on size.

 Techniques available are sclerosis therapy with small injections which are required for the larger vessels and for the smaller type of blush spider veins. The Photoderm/Vasculight laser is used for vessels around the nose and on the cheeks of the face and for smaller vessels on the legs.

 


Daddy Longlegs is the most poisonous spider...

Status: False.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]

"Heard a new one today not from one but from two sources claiming that the Daddy Longleg spider is the most venomous "spider" in the world, it just doesn't have the capabilities to bite humans." 

I found this response to this question:

"The problem with the 'Daddy Longlegs' is that the name is used for several kinds of animals, 2 of them arachnids:

1) The family Phalangiidae (a part of the opilionids [harvestmen], a different order than spiders)

2) a spider: Pholcus phalangioides

Number one doesn't have poison glands. Number two has poison glands but as far as is known in the scientific world, nobody has ever been bitten by one of them. It's not sure if the poison has ever been investigated since there was no need for it."

Source: Herman Vanuytven  from the Arachnology Home page at http://www.ufsia.ac.be/Arachnology/Arachnology.html

Finally, most spider texts list South American species in the family Ctenidae  as the most venomous known to science.

You can find pictures of the Pholcus 'Daddy Longlegs Spider' and many others in the Other Spiders Gallery on this site.


Spiders Bring A Tear To The Eye

Status: False.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]

"He woke up one day and right below his eye was all swollen. Throughout the day it got worse, so he went to the dentist, and there was nothing wrong. Then he went to the doctor - he gave him antibiotics. Still, nothing went away and the swelling just kept getting bigger and bigger.
Eventually a few days later, they operated - and when they cut his cheek open, all these baby spiders fell out.

Apparently a spider crawled into his tear duct and laid eggs in his sinus cavity, and then they hatched in his sinus."


Tarantulas infest student's potted cactus
Jessica Steeno - Staff Reporter

Status: False (Spoof).
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1998]

When a University student purchased a cactus from Acme Florist in Dinkytown, she had no idea thousands of fuzzy arachnids would leap from the soil and infiltrate her apartment.

If she didn't have arachnophobia then, she does now.

"I was finding dead tarantulas in my underwear drawer for weeks after it happened," said Iona Bugg, a senior botany major.

Bugg said she purchased the Christmas cactus last week, and shortly afterward noticed strange noises coming from the pot.

"I could hear something scratching on the inside of the pot, like it was trying to get out," she said.

She immediately called Acme and explained the noises to them.

"I knew right away what it meant," said Moe Skeedo, the store's manager. "There had been problems with spiders nesting in house cactuses in the South, but I was completely shocked to hear that a plant from our store in Minneapolis was full of hatching spiders."

Skeedo told Bugg to evacuate her Dinkytown apartment immediately. He then sent a team of specialists to dispose of the cactus.

Bugg was waiting in the driveway when the specialists arrived.

"They were wearing these big rubber suits when they came out of the van," she said. "It was like something out of E.T."

At this point, Bugg was still not aware that lurking inside the pot was a nest full of tarantulas.

"We didn't want to alarm her," Skeedo said.

The specialists entered Bugg's apartment, where Dale Droppit, Acme Florist's entomologist, located the offending cactus. He picked it up and was intending to bring it back to the van when the inevitable happened.

With his head hanging and eyes fixed on the floor, Droppit said the decontamination suit's gloves are made of slick nylon. He said that when the cactus slipped from his hands, the nest of tarantulas burst open.

"I've never seen so many baby tarantulas in one place," Droppit said. "We were lucky we had our suits on, otherwise the little buggers would've crawled right up our pants. We radioed the exterminator right away."

Moments later, the exterminator's truck pulled into the driveway, Bugg said.

"That's when I knew something fishy was going on," she said. Bugg said she tried to push her way into her apartment to see what was going on, but the men in suits wouldn't let her in.

"They were obviously bugged out by something," she said.

The exterminator bombed her apartment with insecticide, and paid for Bugg's hotel room for the next few days.

Acme Florist attempted to clean up the dead tarantulas, but Bugg said they infiltrated every inch of her apartment.

"When I first came home I couldn't tell anything happened," Bugg said. "But as soon as I started opening drawers and checking crevices I started finding their furry little corpses. One of them creeped into the refrigerator, and it was still alive! It was staggering from being so cold, though, and I killed it without much trouble. It left a big mark on the floor though."

Bugg said that although she was traumatized by the experience and has since switched majors to computer science, she is thankful Acme stepped in when they did.

"Thank God they responded so quickly," she said. "They saved my life, not to mention my sanity. But I still get the creeps whenever I open my fridge."


Another version of the story above....

This bloke and his family were on holiday in the States and went to Mexico for a week. As he is an avid cactus fan he bought a rare and expensive cactus there, it was about a metre high and cost about $500 Aus. He got it home and the customs people were none too impressed so they said it must stay in quarantine for 3 months, cost - $800 or so.

He finally got his cactus home and planted it in his backyard where over time it grew to about 2 metres or so in height. One evening after a beautiful warm spring day he was out watering his garden and thought he might give the cactus a light spray. This he did and was amazed to see the plant shiver all over, he gave it another light spray and it shivered and shook again. All its arms moved. He was puzzled so he rang the council who put him on to the state gardens. After a few transfers he got the states foremost cactus expert who asked him many pointed questions, how tall is it, how tall was it when you got it, has it grown well, has it flowered, what type of spines etc etc. Finally he asked a most disturbing question, " is your family in the house?".

The guy answered yes, the cactus expert said get them out of the house NOW, get on to the front nature strip and wait for me, I will be there in 15 minutes. Ten minutes later, 2 fire trucks, two cop cars and an ambulance came screaming around the corner at the end of the street and stopped out the front of the house.

A fireman got out and came up to him, " are you the guy with the cactus?". I am he said. The fireman turns to the truck and says 'come on Dave'. A guy jumps out of the fire truck wearing what looks like a space suit, a breathing cylinder and mask attached and what looks like a scuba backpack on with a large hose attached.

Stay here, says the first fireman, and they both headed for the backyard. This was too much for the bloke so he ran around after them and found the guy in the space suit was torching his prize cactus with a flamethrower, he sprayed it up and down with this huge flame which fried everything within a ten metre radius of the cactus, caught fire to the back fence and set off the neighbours trees as well. The guy of course was having kittens, what the $%^& is going on etc etc, after about ten minutes the flame thrower man stopped, his cactus stood there smoking and spitting, half the fence was gone, his garden was entirely rooted.

Just then the cactus expert appears and laid a calming hand on the guys shoulder. "What the hell is going on?" says the bloke, 'let me show you' says the cactus man.

He went over to the cactus and picked away at a crusty bit of it, it was almost entirely hollow and filled with these tiger striped bird eating tarantula spiders, about the size of two hands spans.

The story was that this type of spider lays eggs in this type of cactus and they hatch and live in it as it and they grow to full size. When they are all grown to full size they release themselves, the cactus just explodes and about 150 of these plate size tiger striped hairy spiders are flung from it, dispersing everywhere of course. They had been just ready to pop, can you imagine???????????

The aftermath was that his house and the two houses adjoining on each side had to be vacated and fumigated and sealed up for two weeks, yellow police tape was put up outside the whole area and no one was allowed in for two weeks, then they gave the all clear and they could move back in.

Creepy eh?


Burgers and Snakes....

Status: False.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1998]

About a week or so ago, a mother took her eager 3 year old son to Burger King for lunch. After they ate their lunch the mother said that the son could go and play on the playground for awhile since he ate all his lunch. She watched as the boy played in the tunnels, slide and in the ball-pit. The boy played for about 10 minutes when he started to whimper slightly. The mother asks the boy what had happened and he mearly replied, "Hurt mommy." The mother assumed that the little boy had banged his elbow or something while playing. They left to return home. A half-an-hour after they were home, the mother noticed some big red welts on the little boys arms and legs. Not being able to figure out what they were, the mother started to look at them closer.

Could be red ant bites...she did not know. An hour later, the little boy died. Come to find out, when returning to Burger King to see if there were red ants in the play area, in case the little boy had an allergic reaction. Burger King employees and herself discovered that there was a family of baby rattlesnakes living underneath the balls in the ball-pit area. She has since found out that this happens more frequently than not. The snakes will crawl into the ball pit because it is dark and warm in there. She knows for a fact that another death has occurred because of this in South Carolina. Please use caution when letting any children play in an outside play area of a fast food restaurant, this could happen anywhere. Burger Kings are now building their play area's inside the buildings for a safer environment.


Snake Bait...

Status: False.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1998]

Someone's cousin (friend, brother, Uncle, whatever)knew someone who knew a small boy who was with his Dad, fishing on a river (pond, lake, swamp, fill in the blanks) bank. He was playing with some worms, when he complained that the worms were "stinging" him. Of course, they were baby cottonmouths, and of course he died. And of course, no one can pin down precisely where, when, and to whom exactly this occurred.


Daily Telegraph Friday 13 November 1998

Strange but true: Foreign bodies

Pre-packaged food sometimes comes with with added bite, says Paul Sieveking

THE odd caterpillar or foreign object inevitably finds its way into food; but sometimes more bizarre things turn up in kitchens as meals are prepared.

Patricia Henderson, for instance, put her hand in a bag of Sainsbury's mixed herbs last month and felt something large and mobile, which turned out to be a live toad the size of her fist.

Mrs Henderson, 42, bought the salad at the Whitley Bay, Tyneside, store and kept it in the fridge over the weekend before opening it on Monday. The bag's contents had been shipped in from Africa and packed in Britain by suppliers to Sainsbury's before arriving at its store, where it was kept in a refrigerated compartment.

"We have screening procedures which should have spotted something like this - especially at the weighing stage," a spokesman said.

Janet Pillow bought a bag of broccoli at Tesco in Whitstable, Kent, and sliced a live, poisonous, seven-inch water snake in half when she opened it on June 19, 1996, which happened to be during National Broccoli Week.

And in April 1994, a dead bat was found in a pan of frozen broccoli in Alfriston, Derbys.

In 1993, Ken Cope from Whitney, Oxon, found a bone from a child's hand in a packet of pistachio nuts; and the following year Ken Chenowerth from Bristol (who had a snake phobia) found rattlesnake bones in a packet of peanuts. In 1988, a bag of peanuts in Essex contained the molar of a Chinaman.

Lynn Wulf, an inspector for a consumers' affairs department, found half an inch of human finger in a bandage when she opened a can of mushroom stems at her house in Long Island in April 1993. In the same month, a nurse, Rosemary Pothecary, bought a salad in a sandwich bar in Tottenham Street, central London. Back home, she was chewing the final forkful of shredded cabbage when she bit on the top of a human thumb. Earlier in the sandwich bar, a Mr Campos had been preparing coleslaw when he cut off half his thumb and was rushed to hospital. No one thought of checking what had happened to the missing digit.

A third finger turned up in 1993 when a teenager in Ilford heated up a Tyne brand hotpot and bit into something hard which turned out to be half a human finger. In March 1996, David Dean was fixing a snack at home in Tampa, Florida, when he spotted part of a finger lying among the slices of ham which his wife had bought at their local supermarket.

It is not all bad news. In 1992, Levent SŁner bought Norwegian mackerel in some unspecified Turkish town and found a yellow stone in one of the fish which turned out to be 4.5 grams of 24-carat gold. The wife of a Sioux Indian, Benny Left Hand, was even luckier. In 1985 she was cutting up a chicken in her kitchen in the Standing Rock reservation when she felt something hard in the chicken's gut, which turned out to be a nugget of gold about 28 grams in weight.

Li Yunzhong, a Chinese farmer from Hunan province, found a 1.18 carat uncut diamond in the gizzard of a chicken he was preparing for dinner in September 1985. He sold it for 950 yuan (approximately £300) or three times the average annual income for a peasant. It was suggested that the bird picked up the gem from paths spread with gravel from a diamond mine. And in November that year, Ken Holdaway of Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, found a nine carat gold ear-ring in an egg.

An Italian woman thought a tiny stone had become lodged between her teeth as she ate spaghetti in a Rome restaurant in 1996. However, a visit to the dentist revealed a raw diamond worth £2,000, which she planned to mount in a ring. How it got there was a mystery.

Paul Sieveking is editor of Fortean Times


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