Total rubbish from the BBC

This is a story that is egregiously bogus. Wolf spider lays eggs in man’s toe during cruise.

No. Just no. Libel. I only had to read the headline to know that it is bullshit.

Colin Blake was celebrating his 35th wedding anniversary in France when his toe turned purple overnight.

Growing concerned, Mr Blake visited the ship’s doctor and found that a Peruvian wolf spider had bitten him and laid eggs in his toe.

After being given antibiotics to combat the toxins, a “foreign body” was cut out of his toe and he is set to make a full recovery.

Wolf spiders are well-known for laying eggs in a sac — a sac that they then carry around, tending until the spiderlings emerge. They do not lay eggs with a bite, which is anatomically impossible.

What this tells me is that the “doctors” on cruise ships are grossly incompetent. There was no “egg” in that man’s toe.

The next day his toe had become swollen and turned purple, prompting a trip to the ship’s doctor.

The medical staff cut his toe open with a scalpel and a milk-like pus came out.

The pus looked like it contained tea leaves, which turned out to be spider eggs.

What the fuck? That’s not what spider eggs look like. I suspect malpractice.

Back in the UK, Mr Blake was treated at hospital and was given a course of antibiotics to reduce the swelling.

Once the swelling subsided, the spider’s fang marks could be seen as well as the toxin making his way through his foot.

No, they couldn’t. How do you see a toxin?

Four weeks after the bite, Mr Blake discovered a “foreign body” in his foot.

Mr Blake said: “One of the spider eggs hadn’t been flushed and must have hatched.

“They believe the spider was making its way out – eating its way out of my toe.”

The antibiotics had killed the young spider and doctors then removed it by cutting open Mr Blake’s toe.

AAAARGH. No. Spider eggs can’t survive imbedded in human flesh, and they’re not going to eat their way out.

This is outrageously bad “journalism,” without even the most basic fact-checking, or even cursory questioning of the plausibility of the account.

Also, they illustrate the article with a photo of a Brazilian wandering spider, the least of their offenses.


  1. wzrd1 says

    @ 1, or the Daily Fail.

    Or maybe spiders inject eggs with their fangs and humans eat food with their asses.
    BBC used to be good, now they’re just another CNN. Like the old Zenith TV commercial, “The quality goes in before the name goes on”, the quality then removed and briefly installed in the next unit on the production line.

  2. chrislawson says

    Sounds like a straightforward paronychia, a bacterial infection of the tissue around the nail that often swells and will drain pus spontaneously or when lanced to reduce pressure. This is a common medical presentation that does not involve spiders. Spider bites do not become more apparent after cellulitis has settled. Spiders don’t lay eggs in humans. Spiders don’t lay eggs by biting. Antibiotics treat neither toxins nor spiders. Many skin infections that people blame on spider bites are nothing of the sort…‘Although many people attribute an episode of bacterial infection (especially cellulitis and necrotising fasciitis) to an unseen spider bite, they are falsely blamed. Documented spider bites have not led to skin these infections.’ (sic)

    This article was written by someone with zero understanding of medicine or biology. I would not necessarily blame the doctors since none of them have been quoted. It is all directly from the patient, who probably has delusional parasitosis with the clueless BBC reporter lazily parroting the delusion because it makes for a clickbait headline.

  3. John Morales says

    [um, I did not stop to think that removing markup does not stop the comment processor from doing its thing. So, I did not do that deliberately]

  4. chrislawson says

    Actually, looking at the photos in that story, this does not look like a simple paronychia although it could have started that way. It looks like a nasty cellulitis or a diabetic toe. It still does not look like a spider egg hatching horror story.

  5. chrislawson says

    John, yes, this article does have all the hallmarks of a user-submitted story lightly polished by a reporter who didn’t bother checking any aspect of it.

  6. nomdeplume says

    Genuine Fake News. Fancy getting near the end of your life and telling people proudly you had spent that life making up crap for tabloid newspapers.

  7. nomdeplume says

    Oh, wait, it was the BBC?! Another example of the way the Right have damaged public broadcasting around the world.

  8. says

    nomdeplume: In the case of the Beeb, it kinda looks to me like most of teh damage was done, or enabled, by the Beeb first getting lazy, THEN caving to right-wingers when they all started baying in unison about the Beeb’s alleged horrible unfair liberal bias.

  9. xohjoh2n says


    This is another of those unfortunate cases where the ball was started by Labour: the Hutton Inquiry made it absolutely clear that the government was not above going for the jugular on any reporting they felt slighted them, and then once the Tories are back in power they can point to that and say hey, that’s just the normal way of doing things now, and the BBC has to run scared and dare not say much against the current government no matter how well evidenced lest they face an overwhelming overreaction from those that control both their financial purse-strings and the puppet strings of judicial review.

  10. xohjoh2n says

    There was a story on the graun last week about that high energy cosmic ray, that said at one point that the secondary atmospheric cascade “traveled faster than light”. That at least vanished later that day (initially without comment, later with a not entirely specific edit note), but it’s pretty clear that the initial editing chain in most places has no real scientific knowledge because even the most rudimentary would involve refusing to publish that phrase.

    (I still remember an old New Scientist article that said the Antarctic bases were worried about fires so they were replacing their buildings with “inflammable materials”.)

  11. lochaber says

    Not quite as egregious, but when I was enlisted, and mostly stationed in the Mojave Desert, we were always warned about Brown Recluse spiders, and people frequently had random skin infections and glorified pimples diagnosed as “brown recluse bites”, which were then cut out and packed with gauze, which would then take a long time to heal. It was absurd. I don’t think I’ve ever heard as much in 10 years since discharge, as I did in any given week while enlisted.

    We were enlisted, frequently going out on 2+ week training ops that involved no running water, no showers, no laundry facilities, and limited changes of clothes. So, it’s pretty much a given that someone is going to get a random skin (or wound…) infection, people are going to have acne flare-ups, ingrown hairs, shaving bumps, etc. But, what do I know, I was just a terminal lance (who made it to E-4 anyways…), and the guy who said malaria was caused by a virus outranked me…

  12. Erp says

    This is regional BBC, “BBC North East & Cumbria”, so not likely their top notch people.

    (Disclaimer, my cousin works with BBC World Service “Science in Action” which seems reasonably good)

  13. Athaic says

    “The antibiotics had killed the young spider”
    No, wait, antibiotics are also anti-arachnids? (and previously, antibiotics to fight “toxins” – nope, same deal)
    That’s news to me. I could be wrong, but that smells. What did they give him, and how many kilograms of it?

  14. wzrd1 says

    chrislawson @ 4, I did get envenomated by a hobo spider some years back. Found the spider’s remains between my bed sheets, then noticed an inflamed area around the size of a quarter. Took months to fully resolve, but it finally cleared up, leaving a small depression in the bite site.
    Hobo spider bites are exceptionally rare, as they’re quite shy spiders and their venom isn’t as powerful as their cousins, the recluses, but have been recorded. No eschar occurs, only inflammation and mild lower dermal necrosis that resolves typically on its own.
    The poor thing must’ve gotten trapped between the sheets while we were making the bed. :/
    The only eggs apparent were the chicken eggs in my breakfast frying pan. ;)

    xohjoh2n @ 17, saw a similar news story, probably on CNN. They had used the term “apparent superluminal” speeds and mentioned due to the atmosphere’s interaction with particles slowing the velocity of light compared to in a vacuum. Apparently, due to the extreme energy of that void originated particle, particles from the shower were still quite energetic and were seriously cooking as they interacted with the atmosphere. As in, not quite god particle, but within its neighborhood in terms of energy. Also mentioned was the oddity that many of the more energetic particles seem to originate from voids, which the correspondent found rather mysterious.
    Dunno why it’s mysterious, galaxies have dust, gas and magnetic fields to interact with, voids, not so much, so nothing beyond the CMB to slow the particles down.
    I missed that New Scientist article, pity, it’d have had me laughing for months about preventing fire with fire and firestorms with nukes.

  15. says

    There was a story on the graun last week about that high energy cosmic ray, that said at one point that the secondary atmospheric cascade “traveled faster than light”. That at least vanished later that day (initially without comment, later with a not entirely specific edit note)…

    “The BBC regrets the error and urgently reminds our readers that 186,284 miles per second is NOT just a good idea — IT’S THE LAW.”

  16. xohjoh2n says


    I missed that New Scientist article, pity, it’d have had me laughing for months about preventing fire with fire and firestorms with nukes.

    Here is the article, note the correction note at the end.

  17. birgerjohansson says

    Wzrd1 @ 22
    Yes, as light passes through a medium it slows down (this is why light is refracted by water or glass). It is therefore possible for a particle travelling at near C to exceed the local speed of light in that medium. This particle will release a distinct kind of radiation in the process.

    Also, for *apparent” superluminal blobs of gas ejected from quasars, this is an illusion created if the blobs travel almost directly towards the observer.
    It will then look as if the transverse movement of the radio-emitting blob of gas is moving faster than C.

  18. birgerjohansson says

    If there really was a spider or scorpion that is capable of laying eggs that way, I want one. In fact, I want to set up a breeding colony of them.

  19. birgerjohansson says

    Wzrd1 @ 22
    When talking about fast-moving cosmic ray particles; they often collide with atoms high in the atmosphere and release a shower of secondary particles likewise moving at very high speed. The half-life of these particles is typically so short they should not be able reach the Earth’s surface.
    But at these relativistic speeds time dilation becomes a factor and the particles do not experience the same time span as an observer.

  20. Reginald Selkirk says

    After being given antibiotics to combat the toxins

    That’s as far as I got. Maybe I’ll read the rest after breakfast and a good laugh.

  21. Ridana says

    I followed the link from the headline sentence, and most of what was quoted was gone. This was added later, I guess?

    Dr Sara Goodacre from the University of Nottingham said: “I can’t possibly see how it could be true at all because I know about their biology.

    “[The egg sacs] take quite a while to spin. The spider venom is not necrotising, it is designed to paralyse a fruit fly.”

    She said that when a wolf spider lays it eggs, they are kept in a substance that looks like a ball of cotton, which some species carry on their backs.

    Dr Goodacre said there had been no reports suggesting the eggs could live in a “pus-infected wound”.

    She added: “There is no European wolf spider that could really penetrate the skin.”

    The British Arachnological Society also called it “implausible”.

    Update 28 November 2023: This article has been amended to reflect expert opinion on the reports about it being a Peruvian wolf spider.

  22. wzrd1 says

    xohjoh2n @ 24, thanks, that was worth a read for the chuckle over the correction. At least they admitted to their screw-up.