A 'mega cluster' of venomous tarantulas is never a good thing

Imagine a town overrun by 25,000 venomous tarantulas, crawling over the walls, moving in pulsating knots under your floorboards, and using your toothbrush while you sleep (we said 'imagine'), their bites powerful enough to kill small animals and force humans into fits of vomiting.

Welcome to Australia.

Okay, so we might have overcooked that intro a bit. Still, Maningrida, a town 500km east of Darwin, has suffered a mysterious explosion of the spider population, and science can't explain why. Clusters such as these usually number between 200-300 spiders. Maningrida is playing host to approximately 25,000.

"Presumably, something is missing that would hammer them or there is something good [such as a food source]," arachnologist Robert Raven told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It's one of the beauties of science, being able to say 'I don't know.'"

Apparently the beauties of science like to masquerade as the indelible scars on human sanity.

Thankfully the spiders haven't yet made their way into the town proper, instead choosing to occupy a 10 kilometre floodplain just outside, where locals have been filmed patting the creatures, because Australia.

The tarantulas don't pose too much of a threat to humans, their bites being non-lethal, but Raven insisted we shouldn't find that too reassuring. "These are not shallow bites," he said. "Long fangs can potentially do damage by ripping tissue."

Known as diving tarantulas, the species was discovered in 2006, and are impervious to drowning thanks to their ability to create air bubbles underground. We recommend a flamethrower instead.