Poor kid

An 8-year old boy in Bolivia picked up a black widow spider and urged it to bite him (this isn’t as easy as you think, black widows are shy and reluctant to bite) because he wanted to become Spider-Man. This is a worthy goal, but his methods weren’t particularly effective. A doctor explained:

“These black spiders with red backs are black widows. They do not cause anyone to become Spider-Man—on the contrary, they are putting lives at risk,” Vásquez said.

The kid is fine, but this has happened before!

In 2020, a similar case occurred in the rural Bolivian town of Chayanta, in the Andean region of Potosí, involving three children aged 8, 10 and 12 respectively. The trio provoked a black widow spider to bite them with the same objective. Doctors also managed to successfully treat the children in that incident as well.

Clearly, further public education is necessary. The children of South America must have it explained to them that the procedure requires a radioactive spider.

Hey, any millionaires/billionaires out there want to shovel money at me to feed spiders radioactive food and allow them to bite me?


  1. wzrd1 says

    The risk of death being expressed as 5%, but in the US, where antivenom isn’t typically used, is around 0.2%. The most common treatments being benzodiazepines for spasms and morphine for pain.
    Most bites are dry bites, as venom is expensive for the spider, but reactions are largely dose dependent in the case of a wet bite.
    Only was involved in one bite, which was related to a service member not checking the field latrine for webs, took a seat and the spider objected strenuously by biting him firmly in the scrotum. Think swollen to the size of a grapefruit, muscle spasms, agony and global piloerection (hair standing on end), proving latrodectism. He was evacuated, conservatively treated and a few days later, returned to limited duty and checked the seat for webs most dutifully.
    The toxin itself is quite interesting as well, given it significant triggering of release of multiple neurotransmitters.
    I’ve managed to avoid being exposed to that toxin, managing only to get a mild case of loxoscelism from a relative of the brown recluse. Got an ulcer on my leg, but also received no superpowers.

  2. mordred says

    I thought the radioactive spider had been upgraded to a genetically modified spider?
    Surely nobody believes radioactivity gives you superpowers anymore – genetic modification makes much more sense! I mean we all know that vaccines created with genetic technology make you Magneto! /s

  3. Matt G says

    The billionaire set would LOVE to fund your superhero spider research! The only problem is, you’re a liberal….

  4. says

    I remember there being some concern in Australia that kid’s media featuring friendly spider characters might encourage kids to play with poisonous spiders.

  5. says

    I read something once about a guy who was bitten by a radioactive lawyer, and as a result, gained power of attorney.
    Now that’s taking a risk.

  6. strangerinastrangeland says

    As the British comedian Jimmy Carr once said:

    “Ten years after the Chernobyl accident, and am I the only one that’s disappointed? Still no superheroes.”

  7. wzrd1 says

    @ 7, well, a POA is quite a lot of a PIA all too often.
    So, go to the attorney for the POA, go to the proctologist to get rid of it.

    @ 8, interesting! Nile crocodiles respond to my cries. They then recoil in horror, scoop up their young and retreat, afraid that I’ll give them food poisoning.

  8. hemidactylus says

    When I was helping in a grad student’s gopher tortoise research I wore plastic chaps (or lower leg protectors) to avoid pit viper bites. I saw like one black racer dart out of a burrow. But the chaps pulled every frickin’ spider into my pants legs to then bite me on the shins and calves. I would come home with welts. That I didn’t convert to a super hero or villain I don’t know why, but I must have developed an immunity to some spider venoms.

    As an aside, my most cherished memory is when I later worked more formally on a multidecade sea turtle project and we had caught one of many resident gopher tortoises. I picked it up to measure with calipers and it sprayed white goo (gopher apple?) all over a coworker.

    Gopher tortoises are cool!

    During that latter project someone had jarred a black widow so it was **alive* in the staff house with me. Fucking biologists! There were several snakes that had gotten loose in that house too, which were colubrids so not concerning but still. One wound up atop the refrigerator staring back at someone once. Hello! I did catch a scarlet snake. Super sweet disposition. Racers not so much.

  9. wzrd1 says

    hemidactylus, I’d have taped my pants legs to my boots. And I only wear boots in the field. No nylon, but leather that’ll discourage venous bites of angry snakes, tightly laced as usual for both ankle support and prevention of insect and arthropod incursion and consider coating the chaps with something innocuous, but grip resistant to prevent an easy slide to a vulnerable area.
    And I’m prick enough to even use graphite powder, with antistatic additions to accomplish that goal.
    But then, my immune system gets sensitive. A few bedbug bites and I began to blister, from which I still have visible scars from.

    My coolest memory was of a tortoise, whose species entirely evades me, at the Philadelphia Zoo. It was around the age of our nation at the time, it passed away some time ago.

    Picking up an animal should always require its comfort. If it spewed, it was definitely uncomfortable. If I could hand feed a dik-dik gazelle and pick one up without upset, anyone can, with a bit more effort, at a cost of efficiency. And the animals have priority there to me.

    I have twitched a thread on a spider’s web to ascertain its viability, barely, gently and with full consideration of minimum intervention for the maximum gain, the latter just ascertaining viability, not wasting its sparse energy reserves.
    A loose, non-venous snake, a “WTF” discovery, move on, save if it’s really necessary to wrangle it to safety. It’ll figure out quickly enough that there’s no food there and move on otherwise. Although, that’s the mistake I made with getting bitten by a hobo spider, with full envomation and eschar. It somehow got between my bedsheets and during the night, bit me, then was crushed unknowingly.
    After, such creatures were largely relocated from the house, although some were killed due to being unreachable.
    Something about a quarter sized hole in my leg.

  10. yeonkimu says

    I have aracnophobia, which makes reading your blog a bit… uncomfortable, but I can take it. The spidey symbol reminded me that every time I tell people I have aracnophobia they’ll ask “Are you afraid of Spider-Man?”. Every single tim.

  11. says

    Clearly, further public education is necessary. The children of South America must have it explained to them that the procedure requires a radioactive spider.

    Yeah, you can say what you will about the whole Spider-Man story, but at least both the original comic-books and all the Marvel movies were very clear about that. Maybe those kids got a bad translation?

  12. hemidactylus says

    13- wzrd1
    Pretty sure the stuff sprayed out of its rear end and wasn’t projectile vomit. My coworker was a grad student and a Marine which made the goo spray even more priceless. He was a super cool person and was working on beach mice populations at the time. Had some experience checking Sherman traps late at night with him. Won’t get into detail about the skunk spray incident. Fun times.

  13. wzrd1 says

    hemidactylus, I am dyslexic and so, easily confused at challenging times.
    And can pretty much spew in either direction for two meters, adding to my confusion.
    My best indication, if confused is if concrete is eroded, then it’s stomach contents.
    Yeah, my vomit actually erodes concrete – badly.
    But, it’s not irritation, a few doctors tell me. :/
    Haven’t consulted with those idiots about vomiting blood teaspoons.