Myth Blaster – The Case of the Toilet Seat Spider

Does the following look familiar? (Email via the chain-mail crowd) …

WARNING: From the University of North Florida
article by Dr. Beverly Clark, in the Journal of the United Medical Association (JUMA), the mystery behind a recent spate of deaths has been solved. If you haven't already heard about it in the news, here is what happened.
Three women in
North Florida, turned up at hospitals over a 5-day period, all with the same symptoms. Fever, chills, and vomiting, followed by muscular collapse, paralysis, and finally, death. There were no outward signs of trauma. Autopsy results showed toxicity in the blood. These women did not know each other, and seemed to have nothing in common. It was discovered, however, that they had all visited the same Restaurant (Olive Garden) within days of their deaths. The health department descended on the restaurant, shutting it down. The food, water, and air conditioning were all inspected and tested, to no avail.
The big break came when a waitress at the restaurant was rushed to the hospital with similar symptoms. She told doctors that she had been on vacation, and had only went to the restaurant to pick up her check. She did not eat or drink while she was there, but had used the restroom. That is when one toxicologist, remembering an article he had read, drove out to the restaurant, went into the restroom, and lifted the toilet seat.
Under the seat, out of normal view, was a small spider. The spider was captured and brought back to the lab, where it was determined to be the Two-Striped Telamonia (Telamonia dimidiata), so named because of its reddened f
lesh color. This spider's venom is extremely toxic, but can take several days to take effect. They live in cold, dark, damp climates, and toilet rims provide just the right atmosphere. Several days later a lawyer from Jacksonville showed up at a hospital emergency room. Before his death, he told the doctor, that he had been away on business, had taken a flight from Indonesia, changing planes in Singapore, before returning home. He did not visit (Olive Garden), while there. He did, as did all of the other victims, have what was determined to be a puncture wound, on his right buttock.
Investigators discovered that the flight he was on had originated in
India. The Civilian Aeronautics Board (CAB) ordered an immediate inspection of the toilets of all flights from India, and discovered the Two-Striped Telamonia (Telamonia dimidiata) spider's nests on 4 different planes! It is now believed that these spiders can be anywhere in the country. So please, before you use a public toilet, lift the seat to check for spiders. It can save your life! And please pass this on to everyone you care about.
Officer Sylvia Steele
University of North Florida.
Or, how about this one with variations, sent in by Debbie, Arkansas:

A spider bite…please read………..

And you thought the brown recluse was bad!!!
The rest is the same as above.

Myth Buster Verdict: FALSE. The first thing I checked was to see if there was a “Journal of the United Medical Association. No such thing. Then I searched for any medical journal or any report by “Dr. Beverly Clark.” None found. Of course, then I found out that the Civil Aeronautics Board disbanded in 1984. The spider’s scientific name has been changed from the original in 1999 – “arachnius gluteus.” This email hoax should have been easily to identify as bogus. The original was at Chicago O’Hare airport and then later changed to “Blare Airport” – a common practice to change things around to make it more believable or someone wanted to be creative. By the way “archnius gluteus” is Latin for spider butt. The original hoax stated that the flight originated in South America, recent version became India. There are spiders who like dark, cool places, like Black Widows, but unless you use an outhouse, one need not worry. And an airline toilet is a bad place for any insects because of the strong blue chemical coated on it and thereby making it a bad home for spiders. According to Urban Legends, the “Redback Spider” version originated in Australia.

And now you know why employers ban chain-letter email from their offices and most employees cannot receive personal mail. Chain mail has some nice poems sometimes, and on occasion something truly interesting (and factual) – but not very often. If you want to stop this dissemination of bad information – quit forwarding them. If you want to find out about the truth of something, send it to Myth Blaster to be blasted. Note, changed the name from “Myth Buster” to “Myth Blaster” because National Geographic has a program and website under that name and I didn’t want to infringe on their originality. Although I use the “Ghost Busters” theme at the Myth Blaster photo page.

And one more thing – found out that there is a real spider by the name Two-Striped Telamonia. It is a jumping spider from Indonesia, but there seems to have been no reported deaths by being bitten by one. It’s natural habitat is the rain forest. This spider has never been sighted anywhere but Indonesia in the jungle.

4 comments on “Myth Blaster – The Case of the Toilet Seat Spider

  1. CJ says:

    SUPER snoop work, Keith! I had a hunch this was a bogus chain email and couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of how many people who read this chain email and will not be able sit on a toilet now without first doing a “butt spider search”! LOL
    Thanks for your great butt spider myth busting!

  2. cheerchik says:

    The Two-Striped Telamonia spider is NOT fatal to humans, and does NOT live on toilet seats! I have been bitten by a Telamonia Dimidiata, and I am writing this response right now!! Theres signifigant proof it is FALSE!

  3. Keith says:

    Never said it was fatal. Read the article.
    There have been no reported deaths by being bitten by one“.
    Never said it was found in toilets seats either – unless there is a toilet seat found in the Indonesia jungles.

  4. jon says:

    One could easily place wolf spiders (easy to find) in and around toilets while posting that original email on the wall of the stall. It would surely be an awesome sight.

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