Spiders invade an Indian town and kill two people while biting several others during a Hindu Festival, sounds like a scene from a sci-fi movie. Unfortunately, the scene came true for those in the Sadiya, India.
Swarms of never seen before spiders invaded the town in India on May 8, 2012 and scientists from Dibrugarh University and Gauhati University haven’t been able to identify the spiders. Ratul Rajkhowa, a zoology professor at Cotton College, told the Times of India that the spiders could be black wishbones, a species that is native to Southern Australia.
Many people were arriving at the hospital for several days with spider bites. Dr Anil Phatowali, superintendent at Sadiya Civil Hospital said, “We cannot say for sure that the fatalities were due to the venom; it could have been because of allergic reaction to the venom, which triggered cardiac arrest in both the victims. But all the bite patients first went to witch doctors, who cut open their wounds with razors, drained out blood and burnt it. That could have also made them sick. Also, we didn’t administer any antivenin dose, as we were not sure if the spider was venomous.”
The district administration panicked after the spider attack in the town. They put out an alert all across the Tinsukia district and asked people to stay indoors at night in fear that the spiders would swarm back into their Indian town. They had talks about fogging the place with DDT to kill the arachnids but couldn’t find an effective solution since they can’t identify the spider that caused the commotion.
On May 22, a team of scientists led by Dr L R Saikia, head, Department of Life Sciences, from Dibrugarh University and Gauhati University arrived in Sadiya, India. They camped in the area for two nights and collected different specimens thought to be troublesome.
Dr Saikia said, “As of now, we cannot give a specific name. It’s similar to the tarantula, but it could be a whole new species. There aren’t any arachnologists in the northeast, so it will take us a while to identify it. But whatever the species, it is a highly aggressive spider. It leaps at anything that comes close. Some of the victims claimed the spider latched onto them after biting. If that is so, it needs to be dealt with carefully. The chelicerae and fangs of this critter are quite powerful; but it’s too early to declare it a killer spider. In fact, we are yet to test its venom and find out the toxicity.”
According to KSEE24 News there was a post-flood spider attack in Australia last March that left farmlands blanketed in spiderwebs. Also in Pakistan millions of spiders covered trees following last year’s floods.
Spiders Swarm Indian Town
An unidentified spider species has invaded an Indian town killing two and causing panic.
Spiders Attack Town
Biting spiders causing panic in northeastern India. Health authorities say two people who died may have been killed by the treatment they received for the bite, rather than the venom from the spiders.