You've been warned: this article is going to be nightmare fuel for anyone who is arachnophobic. While it doesn't contain many gross or scary spider pictures, the topics discussed here are enough to make you queasy if you're not fond of the eight-legged critters. There are so many scary things spiders do, not to mention creepy species of spiders. And all that terrifying info is just a quick Google search away.
Of course, not all spiders are bad. They're creepy to many, yes, but spiders are a vital part of the natural world. They cut down on pest populations, weave beautifully artistic webs, and become more fascinating as you study them. That doesn't mean you should go clicking randomly on anything tagged "spider" on the Internet.
Whether you're morbidly curious, brave, or just masochistic, here's a roundup of the spider things you shouldn't Google. If you do, no judgments – but you can't feign ignorance about what you're doing.
The Baltimore Wastewater Treatment Plant
This might just be the worst spider infestation of all time. In 2009, the Baltimore Wastewater Treatment Plant called for help for an "extreme spider" problem. When they said extreme, they really meant it. Almost four acres of the property was completely coated in spider web. Scientists who studied the event estimated there were over 107 million spiders living there, with over 35 thousand spiders per cubic meter in spots.
If you're still in doubt about whether or not you should give this a Google image search, maybe a quote from the local paper could help you decide:
"We were unprepared for the sheer scale of the spider population and the extraordinary masses of both three dimensional and sheet-like webbing that blanketed much of the facility’s cavernous interior... Far greater in magnitude than any previously recorded aggregation of orb-weavers, the visual impact of the spectacle was was nothing less than astonishing. In places where the plant workers had swept aside the webbing to access equipment, the silk lay piled on the floor in rope-like clumps as thick as a fire hose.”
Ear Spider Infestation
Spiders living in someone's ear might sound like an urban legend, and many of the pictures you'll find of the supposed condition are doctored. However, there are recorded cases of spiders being found lodged in the ears of both humans and animals.
Spiders don't typically seek out ears, noses, or mouths to crawl into. But when it does happen, the accounts are genuinely unnerving. People describe the scratching sounds they hear as the spider tries to move, and mention unexplained headaches and ear pain. Even though it's very unlikely to ever happen to you, it's awful to think about.
The Goliath Birdeater Tarantula
The Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantula is most likely the world's largest spider. It can grow to the size of a child's arm, and weigh as much as a puppy. Not all of them reach that immense size, but the largest one was recorded as being a foot long. In fact, these spiders are often mistaken for small mammals because they are so hairy.
This tarantula has barbed hairs on its body, it can make a loud hissing noise when threatened, and has fangs that are a whopping two inches long, capable of piercing a mouse's skull. Oh, and it's venomous, and can regenerate lost limbs.
Know what's scarier than a huge mass of spiders? A huge mass of spiders that can fly. In an act called ballooning, some types of spider create a parachute of webbing that they can use to catch the wind and migrate to other areas. Of course, what goes up must come down, and before long, you may witness raining spiders.
In Australia, this is occasionally a major problem. People have reported millions of spiders falling from the sky, literally covering towns in arachnids. One town in Tasmania was even forced to evacuate after a ballooning event, as their town was coated with spiders and spider silk.