Gigantic Eastern Tarantulas are invading a small town in the Australian Outback, offering locals good reason to run screaming from their homes.

The town, known as Bowen, is located on the Queensland coast, roughly 700 miles northwest of Brisbane. As of the 2006 census the population of Bowen stood at slightly less than 8,000 people.

The spiders, colloquially known as “bird-eating spiders” have recently begun “crawling out from gardens and venturing into public spaces in Bowen.”

Given that the spiders can grow as large as a human hand and are one of the few tarantula species with venom potent enough to harm a human, it’s no surprise that the locals are wary of the arachnids.

To wit, a recent tale offered by the U.K.’s Times Online:

Earlier this week locals spotted an Australian tarantula wandering towards a public garden in the centre of town where people often sit for lunch. They called in a pest controller, but not before using a can of insect spray to paralyse the spider.

Audy Geiszler, who runs Amalgamated Pest Control in Bowen, said that the spider was a large male with powerful long fangs and was so big that when he placed it – dead – in the palm of his hand its legs hung over his fingers.

Geiszler, who seems optimistic yet wary, explains the abundance of creepy crawlies as a side effect of humanity’s destruction of the tarantula’s natural habitat. By building up towns in the Australian Outback, the spiders have been forced into contact with humans. Australia’s recent heavy rains have also contributed, driving the spiders to seek shelter within the same dwellings designed to keep Bowen’s residents safe and dry.

So what does Geiszler suggest to residents who come in contact with the spiders? “I’ve warned folks around here to make sure they wear shoes and gloves when they are gardening at the moment as it can be a very nasty bite,” he says.

Jeff Daniels, on the other hand, suggests homemade flamethrowers, and throwing the creatures into the nearest fuse box.

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