A shaken British mother has recounted how she and her family narrowly escaped death at the fangs of the feared South American eight-legged death machine which is the Brazilian wandering spider.
Mum-of-four Laura Horsfield, 31, bought a bunch of bananas from a Tesco in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, on the perfectly reasonable assumption that they would not pose a threat to her four wide-eyed, fruit-loving sprogs.
Chillingly, she quickly discovered a "white pouch" on one of the bananas, apparently containing a nest of Phoneutria fera – a stroppy arachnid with a penchant for both carefree sauntering and senseless killing.
While doubtless sipping on a cuppa with six sugars as a trained tabloid operative offered heartfelt sympathy, Horsfield said: "When I realised it looked like they were such deadly spiders I freaked out, I couldn't believe it. The moment I saw it, I thought it looked like a nest as there were dark shapes inside it - I didn't know what they were and wasn't about to start poking it to find out.
"It was the same as the ones I'd seen on the internet but I thought I must be being silly. But then I posted it on Facebook and before I knew it, my friends were sharing other pictures of Brazilian wandering spider nests and it looked exactly the same."
Horsfield admitted she "just panicked" at this point, and with "screaming children" at risk, "did whatever I thought I could do to ensure it didn't hatch."
For those readers unfamiliar with the containment protocol, here's the drill, according to Horsfield: "I threw it on the floor in the garden and stamped on it lots of times. But then I thought that some could have survived that so I boiled the kettle and poured the boiling water over it to try and scald any remaining ones to death.
"I don't think anything survived that but I wasn't about to take the risk so I put what remained of the banana and nest in a sealed sandwich bag to suffocate anything that might be alive in there. If it could be considered a fight, I certainly won!"
Maybe not. Experts will have noticed a serious oversight here – Horsfield's failure to take off and nuke the planet from orbit, which as we all know is the only way to be sure.
Nonetheless, the threat appears to have been temporarily suppressed, and we should be grateful that the infected banana failed to penetrate the UK education system, thanks to an amazing piece of luck. The spider apocalypse saviour mum explained: "I had actually offered that one to my eldest son Leon to take to school with him but thankfully he had said no – imagine it had gone to school with him!"
Indeed, the Daily Mail would have had a field day with an octopod assassin scuttling rampant around some Yorkshire seat of education, while working an Islamic State suicide spider angle into its lurid, bowel-loosening exposé.
A spokesman for the Vatican confirmed yesterday* that Phoneutria fera poses the biggest threat to humanity after global warming, and of course global warming opens new markets to the Brazilian wandering spider, which according to one boffin contacted by El Reg today**, will "have your f***ing arm off" as soon as look at you. ®
* Oh ok, we made that up.
** And that.