Amid the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic across the country, a new fear has gripped the residents of Howrah district in West Bengal. Locals in Katagachhi village of Shyampur block have complained that “deadly" tarantulas have been spotted in several houses in the last few days.
They alleged that the poisonous black fat spiders have bitten many people, and claimed that a young person has even died.
The residents are scared since the death of the young man who, they said, died only after getting bitten by a tarantula.
“The spider infestation has been going on for a few days now. It is a big spider with big hair on its body. It is very scary looking. I don’t know how to chase it out when I enter the house," one resident said, explaining the fearful situation in their village.
While another resident expressed concerns about children at home where the big black spiders have been spotted. He said his family is being cautious but who knows when and where the ‘Howrah tarantula’ - as the villagers are calling it - will strike.
As the panic spread in Katagachhi, the villagers first informed the Nakol gram panchayat. On Thursday, some forest officers reached the village and caught seven or eight black spiders. However, the authorities could not reveal anything about the spiders before their sample testing.
Adbul Kalam, an official in the forest department said once the tests are done, they can be certain whether these spiders are indeed tarantulas.
While the death of the young man and the panic around the hairy spiders are a matter of investigation, tarantulas are not considered to be deadly to humans.
According to a BBC report, tarantulas are not aggressive naturally, and they usually don’t inject their poison. Even in cases where these big black spiders resort to biting humans, their bite is normally as severe as a bee sting.