You say that like it’s a bad thing

There’s a surge in the spider population going on, and people are calling it an Arachnid Apocalypse.

It isn’t just your imagination. Scary sightings of larger-than-usual spiders are on the rise in Metro Vancouver this fall.

Pest control specialist Randy Bilesky has seen a 50 per cent increase in calls to his service this season over last.

“People panic … we get the phone call after someone has walked through a spider web,” said Bilesky. “They are sure it’s still in their hair, especially if it is one of the big hobo spiders.”

I prefer the term “Spider Renaissance”.

What next? Is everyone going to start complaining “Oooh, there are too many squid in the ocean” and “Ick, there are prokaryotes crawling around in my colon”?


  1. Michael says

    I live in Greater Vancouver, and oddly enough I’ve seen less than usual, which is fine with me.

    “By killing spiders you see near you, you are allowing only the sneaky spiders to breed, creating an evolved species of super sneaky spiders that you won’t see coming for you.”

  2. Becca Stareyes says

    I mean, more spiders usually mean there are lots of spider food, which can mean insects that I find annoying when they live in my neighborhood. So the spiders are the solution to a problem that does actually exist. But it’s like naming things the ‘Zombie Hunter Apocalypse’.

  3. komarov says

    What next? Is everyone going to start complaining “Oooh, there are too many squid in the ocean” and “Ick, there are prokaryotes crawling around in my colon”?

    Isn’t that what cleanses and various types of quackery are all about? But given the choice I think I’d prefer prokaryotes to spiders crawling around my colon.

    Re: Becca Stareyes

    But it’s like naming things the ‘Zombie Hunter Apocalypse’.

    Now that you mention it, that is probably the very thing that would happen immediately after a zombie apocalypse winds down. You have a bunch of sociopaths used to offing the shambling undead in gory and creative ways, but no zombies left for them to vent their anger on. Before long they’ll get bored and suddenly it’s the zombie hunter apocalypse.

    In the case of bored spiders, however, I guess they’ll get their thrills by putting even more webs in doorways to make us curse and flail. Gah…

  4. steve1 says

    I hope I have prokaryotes crawling around my colon. What is a colon without prokaryotes crawling around?

  5. HappyHead says

    It’s not just Vancouver – I’m way off in southern Ontario, and had an absolutely gigantic spider make a web across my patio. The thing’s body (ignoring the legs) was about an inch long, and the web almost caught a police officer.
    There was some very high pitched screaming involved.

  6. quotetheunquote says

    @HappyHead #8.

    …and the web almost caught a police officer.
    There was some very high pitched screaming involved.

    Please please please tell me there is video of this!

  7. brucej says

    @#5 : At least we know the upper bounds on spider size; they got that part of the science right, even if they got all the mutant biology stuff wrong..

  8. magistramarla says

    PZ – You need to see the latest episode of Dr. Who! I think that you would truly like the way that she deals with spiders.
    Of course, going to sleep soon after seeing those giant spiders in the show was not exactly pleasant.

  9. wsierichs says

    I foresee the spiders and cockroaches battling it out after global scorching wipes out the human species.

  10. HappyHead says

    @quotetheunquote #12

    Please please please tell me there is video of this!

    Sadly no, I had already turned off the security camera to give the officer a copy of the very clear video of the guy who had broken in through the window beside the patio. (The B&E department took one look at the first frame, and said “Oh, it’s Nigel.” Probably their easiest investigation that whole month.)

  11. Matrim says

    My prokaryotes don’t crawl, thank you very much. They propel themselves via flagellation.

  12. wzrd1 says

    Spiders used to bother me a great deal, due to a traumatic experience as a child, seeing a recently molted spider literally crawl up my mother’s nose while she was unable to brush it away, as her hands were full with a heavy planter.
    So, I desensitized myself, in part by feeding wild spiders assorted annoying insects that pestered me and were captured, for the purpose of observing them in a safe environment (out of doors and unencumbered). Later, being military, I learned how to coexist with all manner of annoying wildlife, including fleas that, upon fleeing their deceased host, then troop on to seek another host, take one taste, go “Yuck! Human!”, move on.
    Been bitten by a hobo spider, annoying, not very painful, minor necrosis, self-limiting.
    Been bitten by a brown recluse, was lucky it was a warning bite. A quarter sized depression, which remained inflamed and depressed for a few months. A full envenomation would’ve resulted in eschar, then a hole in my leg that one could drop a quarter into.
    But, now I can watch spider videos, even happily tolerate that spider web in the corner, which hopefully will intercept a housefly or seven (hopefully, more), when I open the door to go in or out and the annoying fly comes in and with luck, the occasional mosquito, which I’ll fantasize is carrying zika virus (not really, a joke that I might employ next spider season, it’s starting to get cold now, they’ll largely be dormant, save the ones under the beds and they’re well employed).
    Soon, to report upon my biological warfare experiments to exterminate a plague upon my and my wife’s existence. Trapped in a hotel room, unable to move to proper housing, out of fear of bringing along the hotel’s pets, bed bugs. I’ve managed to keep my clothing unexposed, via a layered chemical defense barrier, but I can’t count on that forever and I’ve learned of some promising experiments with a mold. Plus additional chemical assaults, if the mold isn’t as effective as I desire.
    In an ideal world, I’d have precise spore characteristics measured via an electron microscope, then culture it, prepare a spore solution of a specific size that won’t be discussed, prepare the spore compound and disseminate it. There are specific characteristics required for such methods to work.
    And since that mold doesn’t even bother immunosuppressed humans and well, vertebrates, is ideal for this exercise. Unless a future guest has a pet tarantula, that guest would likely be SOL.
    Alas, the spiders will likely also die. As the chances of the mold escaping and altering the environment is negligible, as that mold exists in nature in this region, another issue that I’m not highly concerned about.

    Contained specimens were enclosed in a small test chamber, surrounded by black media, then white media, to detect potential escapes and contamination in a new area. Observation was accomplished via a number of high resolution security cameras, with appropriate lens exchange, with overlapping fields of observation. Zoneminder was employed as recording, as it has a naturally sensitive default configuration, which was recorded.
    One data set I entirely failed to properly record and will attempt to replicate, as it’s significant, is social behavior with young, the adults actually assisted the young through their first molt extraction. Thus far, this level of social behavior is unobserved in any species of Cimex.
    Might publish the results, I’ve learned how to write a fairly decent paper, which can survive a court of law and peer review (which taught me the most). If only to show a pathway to replication.

    My preference would’ve been to spray the room with a fog of DDT, where it won’t enter the environment.
    But, when in lemon land, learn how to make lemonade, while dealing with a serious pest that is quite literally making me anemic.
    Did the same when in a cheap apartment, back when I was seriously junior enlisted, had an infant and another on the way and got stuck with a cockroach infestation.
    In that instance, I fed the hatched young, observed adults interacting, introduced a preying mantis to a well fed moderate sized population and watched the roaches eat the eyes first from the mantis, then consume it utterly.
    Then went for chemical methods, which properly rotated, eliminated the entire population.

  13. quotetheunquote says

    HappyHead #18

    Actually had a to “lol” at that! Reminds me very much of a radio comedy bit I heard years ago; the stand-up comic (wish I could remember his name… ) was describing what law enforcement is like in a small Northern Ontario town:
    -Constable: So…. can you decribe your assailant?
    -Victim: Yeah … it was Billy.
    -Constable: Oh, okay. Well, I guess I’ll go pick him up at the house then.
    -Victim: Nah, it’s his week to have the kids, he’ll be up at the trailer.
    -Constable: Oh, right…

    (Or something like that).

  14. m n says

    Michael @#2

    I’m in the area too and I have definitely seen more around my place, just to add in some anecdata from the opposing view. Pretty sure there’s an enormous black widow somewhere in my potted plants (it skittered off somewhere when I went to get an implement to safely check it out more thoroughly and remove from my space) and now I’m afraid to leave the window open… We’ve never had an issue with spiders before, being on the 11th floor, so I am Not Pleased with this development, haha.

  15. methuseus says

    In the article, one expert says, “They don’t come into our beds and bite us.” Well, at least part of my arachnophobia stems from multiple times as a small child (4-5 years old) waking up to a spider biting me in my bed. These were hunting spiders, and I probably rolled over on them prompting them to bite as a threat response. But they do still climb into our beds and bite us. Even if it’s a very good reason for biting, it still happens.