Out of all the possible end-of-the-world scenarios, I'm thinking “arachnid apocalypse” is probably one that triggers the most nightmares... and the scariest part is the evidence is all around us. We already know they've got the numbers – after all, there are way more spiders on Earth than humans – but over the past couple of years, we've been seeing more and more evidence suggesting the eight-legged horrors are making their move towards becoming the dominant species.
Just a casual web search turns up hundreds of skin-crawling spider news stories each month, but for today I've narrowed the list down to our five creepiest entries. (You're welcome.) Click on the headlines for the full stories... but you might want to pick your feet up off the floor while you read them.
Just take a moment to let that headline sink in. You can't get much more apocalyptic than spiders raining out of the damn sky. It may be perfectly natural behavior for this particular species, but the fact that they work in teams to build mega-webs doesn't exactly make me feel better.
Photo: João P. Burini
It might comfort you to know that this story comes from 2011, and the aggressive, highly venomous spider in question is probably long dead by now. But that doesn't make the prospect of a killer arachnid lurking in the produce section of your local Safeway any less terrifying.
Even arachnid experts are getting creeped out by increased reports of bat-eating spiders around the world. Since solitary spiders are upgrading their webs to ensnare small mammals, who knows what they could accomplish if they all worked together? Funny you should ask, because in our next story...
Photo: Daniel Munoz, Reuters
See what I did there? Yes, another example of social spider species working as a team to make giant sticky trampolines of death, large enough to cover several acres of farmland (and houses, as you can see). Oh sure, scientists say it's actually the spiders' way of escaping flood waters, and not an attempt to stage the arachnid version of Under the Dome. But we know better, don't we?
Photo: Daily Star
I've saved the best for last: recently a large region of southern Britain has been invaded by armies of these venomous crawlers, which are close relatives of the black widow. Climate change is cited as the probable cause for the surge in widow populations, but I can't help but wonder if the skull-like symbols on the creatures' backs are the insignia of some kind of mutant army. Or maybe I've just been watching too many horror movies... wait, what am I saying?