Toxic alien shows up early, has the power to make victims puke.
Every August, Tokyo’s Big Sight convention center hosts Comiket, the country’s largest event for dojinshi (self-published manga) enthusiasts. During the festivities, artists, anime fans, ad industry types all rub shoulders in the halls of Big Sight, but this year they might be sharing the venue with a highly poisonous spider.
8月3日16時15分ごろ、東京ビッグサイト 東展示棟敷地内の植栽エリアにて、特定外来生物指定のセアカゴケグモが発見されました。 発見場所・その周辺は、本日中に 検索・簡易消毒を行い、明日改めて一斉消毒を行います。発見した場合には、触らずに、近くの警備員に お知らせください—
東京ビッグサイト (@T_Bigsight) August 03, 2017
Big Sight’s official Twitter account reported that a redback spider was found in a planter in the east part of the facility on August 3 at roughly 4:15 (which likely gives the spider an alibi for the fire that happened that same afternoon at the Tsukiji Fish Market). The redback spider is part of the Latrodectus genus, a distinction it shares with the black widow. It’s also native to Australia, making it an alien species in Japan.
While visiting aliens might be right up the alley of some sci-fi otaku, you’ll want to keep your distance from the redback, as their bites can cause the condition called latrodectism. While an antivenom exists and no deaths have ever been reported from redback bites, the symptoms of latrodectism include intense pain that can spread throughout the affected limb and last for over 24 hours, sweating, headaches, and vomiting. So basically a really bad, poison-induced hangover.
Females, which are typically about 10 millimeters (0.4 inches) in length, are the ones to watch out for, as they’re the gender whose bites pack the more powerful punch. Female redback spiders can be identified by the red stripe on their backs, because subtle eloquence isn’t nearly as important as succinct descriptiveness when you’re naming creatures that have the power to make you puke if you mess with them.
Big Sight management says the area the spider was found in has been disinfected, and a follow-up investigation is being carried out to see if any other redbacks have infiltrated the site. Visitors are asked to inform the nearest security staff member should they spot a redback.
The timing of the discovery, coming shortly before Big Sight becomes packed with Comiket attendees, is unfortunate…but is it entirely coincidental? Wikipedia describes the species as “Mainly nocturnal…liv[ing] in an untidy web in a warm sheltered location,” which sounds a lot like an otaku binge-watching anime late into the night while sitting on a comfy couch in an otherwise messy apartment.
Then there are redback mating habits to consider, in which the female devours the male during sex and stores his sperm in her reproductive tract, and can use his arachnid man juice to fertilize her eggs up to two years after their violently aborted moment of passion.
Honestly, that sounds like it could be the premise of a particularly fetishy dojinshi, so maybe the redback spider found at Big Sight was just showing up early to stake out a prime spot to hawk its comics at during Comiket.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s setting the over/under on the number of redback spider cosplayers at this summer’s Comiket at eight.