Tarantulas

The large, hairy tarantulas (Mygalomorphae) are sometimes introduced with goods from the tropics. Most are harmless, but still, do not cuddle them. Some of the species have aggressive hairs that can cause eczema in people who touch them.

If during unloading or unpacking of goods from the tropics you encounter alarming animals you do not know, you should memorize their shape, color, size and other characteristics before seeking the advice of the Zoological Museum.

For many years, exciting stories have been circulating, about “dangerous tarantulas in Yucca palms”. We will not repeat these stories here, but just add that it is safe to assume that there is not a word of truth in them. Moreover, it often turns out that in Denmark, a suspected tarantula is in fact the domestic house spider which can be frightening with its impressive size. A fully grown specimen takes up more than a large coin.

Spiders

Season for house spiders

Fig. 98. The domestic house spider in natural size. Spiders usually have eight legs. This female (left) had lost a leg, but continued to live for several months. On the right, you can see a male.

Spider

Spider

Spiders (Araneae) live by catching and sucking other animals dry. For stabbing and killing their prey, they have a set of chelicerae (jaws).The edge of the jaws is a curved, hollow hook, through which venom from the venom gland can be squeezed into the prey.

Spiders’ venomous fangs are almost never used as defense weapons. If the fangs end up in human skin, it is highly unintentional and can only happen if a person holds the animal by hand or it gets trapped under their clothing. Even in these cases only the largest of the Danish species can bite in such a way that it is felt. One example is the domestic house spider, Tegenaria domestica, and the cross spider, Araneus diadematus – two major species which are known to live in and around most Danish homes.

House spiders with eight legs

Fig. 99. Domestic house spiders are seen indoors twice a year.

Bites from large spiders can cause intense swelling, which can last for a long time. A spider bite, which a person might have gotten in bed while sleeping, may be a possible explanation for such, local swelling.