A possibly new species of spider invaded India last month, resulting in mass chaos and two people dead.
People in India were attending a local festival when it was overvwhelmed by a swarm of spiders, which resulted in a near panic. The invasion of spiders occurred on the evening of May 8, as the festival came to a close. The swarm of spiders appeared suddenly and began wreaking havoc by biting those they came across. Festival goers tripped over each other and ran into benches in an effort to escape, according to the Times of India.
What seemed like a horror flick special turned into an even greater outbreak when the eight-legged invaders continued to return night after night. After two deaths were reported, officials became panicked and told locals to stay inside at night, when biting hours occurred.
Scientists from Dibrugarh University and Gauhati University arrived on May 22 to investigate the situation, and are currently trying to identify the species of the spider.
"As of now, we cannot give a specific name. It's similar to the tarantula, but it could be a whole new species. There aren't any arachnologists in the northeast, so it will take us a while to identify it. But whatever the species, it is a highly aggressive spider," Dr. L. R. Saikia, the head of the Department of Life Sciences at Dibrugarh University, told Times of India.
While scientists are yet uncertain as to whether the spider has toxic victim, or if the two deaths were the result of an allergic reaction, they are certain that the spider is predisposed to attack "anything."
"It leaps at anything that comes close. Some of the victims claimed the spider latched onto them after biting. If that is so, it needs to be dealt with carefully. The chelicerae and fangs of this critter are quite powerful; but it's too early to declare it a killer spider," Saikia said.
The spiders are not native to India; researchers are also looking for a clue as to why the spiders have invaded the area.
The spider invasion is not the first, according to Time magazine. Mass amounts of spiders also appeared in Australia last month and Pakistan last year.