Thursday, November 12, 2009
Here is another collection of stories of a Fortean nature concerning invertebrates; both spiders and insects. The first story is from The Guardian of May 30th 1987 `Death in Venice for marauding gnats.`
The article begins by mentioning the forthcoming summit of world leaders in Venice. Then, 'But for the leaders` Venetian hosts,one less publicised problem is multiplying daily by the million; the gnats of the Lagoon are beginning to swarm. Last summer, dense aerial formations twice shut down Venice airport; frequently, the waterbuses chug to a halt in the face of the ubiquitous insects. The fear is that the summit, to take place on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, could be blotted out, hidden from sight and even worse,from television cameras…Venetians insist that the gnats do not bite, just get in the way. But even so, no chances are being taken with the leaders. At Venice city hospital, two private rooms are being made ready for any illustrious patient – and all staff leave has been cancelled.'(1)
Now moving on to spiders; a rich source of lore. Unknown paper (possibly The Daily Telegraph) August 6th 1991:
`Blind spiders are a sight for sore eyes`: A colony of blind spiders previously thought to be extinct has been found in a remote cave on the Nullarbor Plain in South Australia. Known as Troglodiplura Lowryi, the spiders are related to the trapdoor and funnelweb species. Only two other types of eyeless spider are believed to exist. Their straw-coloured bodies are about one inch across. They lost their pigment and their eyes thousands of years ago when the species moved hundreds of feet underground and more than a mile from the cave entrance. A research team from the Australian Museum`s arachnology department did not find any adult spiders but the evidence that the colony was doing well. Only carcases of the species had been found in the past. (2)
The second spider story, coincidentally also connected to Australia, dates from September 12th 1991, also in The Daily Telegraph. `Killer spiders gassed in Norfolk barn.` :
'A barn in which killer spiders were found was sealed off while health officials destroyed the insects with poison gas. The Australian spiders were discovered in the barn in Seething, Norfolk, where a couple had stored furniture from Adelaide. For 66 hours, health workers pumped gas into the barn to destroy the small and mainly black redbacks, which can kill humans. The venom paralyses the respiratory system after two to three days of pain and nausea…Fumigation specialists pumped methyl bromide inside and around the furniture and health officers recovered two dead redbacks…Mr Paul Hillyard, a spider expert at the Natural History Museum, London,said redbacks posed a greater danger to children and the elderly than to healthy young adults. “Deaths from redbacks were common in Australia until about 30 years ago when an anti-venom vaccine was introduced widely,” he said.' (3)
Moving on to ants, or rather giant ants, this again from The Daily Telegraph, (I`ve not suddenly turned Conservative by the way, I still intend to keep the Red Flag flying over this corner of Macclesfield some of you will be glad to hear, until that is banished by right-wing hordes, it`s just that for a while at least this particular broadsheet was strong on off beat stories) of October 4th 1991: `Man dies as giant ants swarm into motel room`. A man died after being attacked by a swarm of the world`s largest ants, it was claimed yesterday. Mrs Hazel Murphey said she woke to find hundreds of Brazilian fire ants, each as big as a thumbnail, crawling over their bed in a motel room in Houston, Texas. Mrs Murphy, whose husband died later, is suing the motel owners…They are currently threatening construction of the world`s biggest scientific instrument, a 17-mile wide atom smashing machine near Waxahachie, Texas [ ah - is this the same thing that has been trying to smash atoms in Europe over the last few months with repeated failure that some commentators are quite seriously putting down to Divine intervention? R] Attempts to kill the ants off have failed because,unlike many insect species, they have several queens per mound, and scientists now fear they will attack thousands of miles of electric cables that will service the machine`s twin 53 mile underground tunnels, where atomic particles will smash into each other at almost the speed of light”.' (4)
So we have two stories here - ants kill human. God (?) uses ants, …to kill machine!
Finally, the humble wart-biter cricket and I assure you it didn`t stop a new runway or shopping centre being built. This from National Trust Magazine Autumn 1995: 'The almost extinct wart-biter cricket has been rediscovered at a National Trust property in Wiltshire. Thirteen wart-biters were found at the site which has recently been transformed by a downland restoration programme. The wart biter is very particular about where it lives and, with the help of English Nature, the National Trust is now managing the estate to safeguard its future. It gets its name from the old Swedish custom of allowing insects to Bite off warts' (5). [My own emphasis in italics. This is an interesting bit of folklore. Any one care to investigate?]
1 G.Armstrong and S.Tisdall. Death in Venice for marauding gnats. The Guardian May 30th 1987
2 Sydney Correspondent. Blind spiders are a sight for sore eyes. The Daily Telegraph (?) August 6th 1991
3 G.Bartlett. Killer Spiders gassed in Norfolk barn. The Daily Telegraph September 12th 1991
4 A.Berry. Man dies as giant ants swarm into motel room. The Daily Telegraph. October 4th 1991
5 Anon. Warts and all. National Trust Magazine. Autumn. Autumn 1995.
Its nice here with a view of the trees
Eating with a spoon?
They don`t give you knives?
`Spect you watch those trees
Blowing in the breeze
We want to see you lead a normal life.
Peter Gabriel-Lead A Normal Life.
Throughout human history gladiators have fought in various arenas for the enjoyment of others. Yet even the greatest of human champions would last mere seconds against some of nature’s nightmares.
Few people would fail to recognise the killing capability of a great white shark. However, is it without peer? Does it have anything to fear from any of the ocean’s other predators?
Similarly, few people would doubt the killing capability of the legendary Tyrannosaurus rex, but could it eat any dinosaur it came across? If it had lived in another place and at another time, would T. Rex have ended up being lunch for something else?
Predator Deathmatch is the first book ever to study apex predators and actually pose the question of who is/was the ultimate predator by pitting them against each other. The author has carefully profiled each contender with a mixture of historical data, information from the fossil record and current observations of wild animal behaviour. He whets our appetites with a big fight build-up prior to a fictional description of the clash itself between two apex predators.
Clashes include Great White Shark vs. Killer Whale, Polar Bear vs. Siberian Tiger and T. Rex vs. the prehistoric Supercroc, to name but a few. Each chapter presents the available facts and then opines to settle the score.
Informative, educational and thoroughly entertaining, Predator Deathmatch presents the reader with the facts, the myths, and the conjecture on these mighty predators. Forget Muhammad Ali; open the page and find out who really is the greatest of all time!
Nick Molloy is a non-conformist failed athlete who spent a few years working as a rat, wearing a suit for a FTSE 250 company. He saw the light, sacrificed the six-figure salary, discarded the suit (literally), and now earns a modest stipend as a male stripper. He has been known to answer to the name Sexecute.
Therefore I understand perfectly what dear Lindsay Selby is going through. Her cat Baggins was put to sleep yesterday.
Bigfoot in Georgia will be available in December.
I want to let you know that Pine Winds Press is publishing a new series about Bigfoot, looking at the Bigfoot phenomena in individual states. Jeffery Wells, with his new book Bigfoot in Georgia, provides a great start to the series.
Jeff explores the mystery of Bigfoot in Georgia from the earliest Native American legends through the latest Bigfoot hoax. He reports on encounters throughout history, the Elkins Creek cast, and the fascinating people who are searching in Georgia today for clues about the elusive creature.
We are hoping that you will review the book on your website and/or newsletter. If you are interested, we will be happy to send you a review copy.
We are also looking for authors who would be interested in writing the story of their state or province. If you or anyone you know is interested, please email me with contact information. Some states seem so full of activity that they may deserve more than one book. We welcome writers who want to write about a particular region, too.
All the best,
President, Pine Winds Press, a division of Idyll Arbor
Did you know that on this day in 1912 the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers of the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition were discovered along with Scott’s diary.
And now for the news:
Wonder if he gets annoyed by people asking “Who is the President of China”.