I, like many of you reading this, am absolutely petrified of spiders and am plunged into absolute dread and dismay whenever I spot a dark, scurrying shape in the corner of my vision.
Fortunately, I live in the UK where insects are generally pretty dull and have long comforted myself with the knowledge they can’t really do all that much to hurt you apart from an uncomfortable, itchy bite.
However, imagine if you came face-to-face with a spider capable of rotting your flesh with a single bite? I mean, you probably don’t want to imagine this scenario, but it’s too late now and here we are…
The Loxosceles Tenochtitlan spider has just been discovered in Mexico, and it’s every bit as grimly terrifying as it sounds.
Known to lurk in household furniture, Loxoceles spiders possess a potent tissue-destroying venom that can result in necrosis lesions on the skin of up to 40cm. Think on that next time you’re slobbed out happily on the sofa.
These lesions can take several months to heal, permanently scarring the injured individual. Children who are bitten can experience more severe issues, with the venom capable of entering the bloodstream and destroying red blood cells.
This species of violin spider – sometimes referred as recluse spiders – had initially been confused with the Loxosceles misteca, another species originally from the Mexican states of Guerrero and Morelos that was introduced to the Valley of Mexico.
This new flesh-rotting species was discovered and christened by National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) biologist Alejandro Valdez-Mondragon alongside his students Claudia Navarro, Karen Solis, Mayra Cortez and Alma Juarez.
Speaking with local media, Valdez-Mondragon said:
As it is very similar to the Loxosceles misteca, we thought that it had been introduced to this region by the shipping of ornamental plants, but when doing molecular biology studies of both species, we realised that they are completely different.
According to Valdez-Mondragon, Loxoceles spiders can bite humans if they feel attacked, however they tend to hide themselves away in gaps between objects, furniture or in walls:
We provide them with the temperature, humidity and food to establish themselves in our homes, which puts us at risk of having an accident with them, although they also perform an important ecological function when feeding on insects.
So there’s me never, ever setting foot in Mexico, no matter how much tequila I might be offered…
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