The RSPCA has warned the good burghers of Bolton to keep a sharp eye out for Chilean Rose tarantulas after a couple of the eight-legged critters were spotted in local gardens.
The organisation reckons the two may be from a larger batch of arachnid escapees and, if the Telegraph's headline is to be believed, it could be just a matter of weeks before the entire country is blanketed in a seething mass of alien spiders.
The first tarantula was spotted by 20-year-old Lisa Broad, who lives on the Oldhams Estate in Sharples. The RSPCA rehomed the creature, but three-and-a-half weeks later was called in to assist a Lostock woman who found another one perched on her garden wall.
She eventually managed to contain the meanace under a plant pot on her garden path while expert operatives rushed to the scene. RSPCA inspector Derek Hampson said: "We advised her to keep it under the plant pot until we arrived. They can quite happily go a week without food, so it was quite content. It got a bit aggressive when I picked it up. I wore safety goggles as these creatures can spit hairs which can blind you."
He chillingly added: "It is possible there could be more out there, but unfortunately we haven't got the resources to search for them. It is up to members of the public to call us if they spot any."
Hampson took the second beast - a female - to Bugworld in Liverpool. Curator Jenny Dobson said: "It is rare for one of these to come in and we saw... there had been another with the same characteristics found outdoors."
Sadly for the Telegraph's arachnid apocalypse department, Dobson concluded: "It is likely they came from the same place. It would be too much of a coincidence otherwise for two breakouts and they can't survive in the wild for long with the UK climate." ®