When a University student purchased a cactus from Acme Florist in
Dinkytown, she had no idea thousands of fuzzy arachnids would leap from the
soil and infiltrate her apartment.
If she didn't have arachnophobia then, she does now.
"I was finding dead tarantulas in my underwear drawer
for weeks after it happened," said Iona Bugg, a senior botany major.
Bugg said she purchased the Christmas cactus last week, and
shortly afterward noticed strange noises coming from the pot.
"I could hear something scratching on the inside of the
pot, like it was trying to get out," she said.
She immediately called Acme and explained the noises to
"I knew right away what it meant," said Moe Skeedo,
the store's manager. "There had been problems with spiders nesting in
house cactuses in the South, but I was completely shocked to hear that a
plant from our store in Minneapolis was full of hatching spiders."
Skeedo told Bugg to evacuate her Dinkytown apartment
immediately. He then sent a team of specialists to dispose of the cactus.
Bugg was waiting in the driveway when the specialists
"They were wearing these big rubber suits when they
came out of the van," she said. "It was like something out of E.T."
At this point, Bugg was still not aware that lurking inside
the pot was a nest full of tarantulas.
"We didn't want to alarm her," Skeedo said.
The specialists entered Bugg's apartment, where Dale Droppit,
Acme Florist's entomologist, located the offending cactus. He picked it up
and was intending to bring it back to the van when the inevitable happened.
With his head hanging and eyes fixed on the floor, Droppit
said the decontamination suit's gloves are made of slick nylon. He said that
when the cactus slipped from his hands, the nest of tarantulas burst open.
"I've never seen so many baby tarantulas in one
place," Droppit said. "We were lucky we had our suits on,
otherwise the little buggers would've crawled right up our pants. We radioed
the exterminator right away."
Moments later, the exterminator's truck pulled into the
driveway, Bugg said.
"That's when I knew something fishy was going on,"
she said. Bugg said she tried to push her way into her apartment to see what
was going on, but the men in suits wouldn't let her in.
"They were obviously bugged out by something," she
The exterminator bombed her apartment with insecticide, and
paid for Bugg's hotel room for the next few days.
Acme Florist attempted to clean up the dead tarantulas, but
Bugg said they infiltrated every inch of her apartment.
"When I first came home I couldn't tell anything
happened," Bugg said. "But as soon as I started opening drawers
and checking crevices I started finding their furry little corpses. One of
them creeped into the refrigerator, and it was still alive! It was
staggering from being so cold, though, and I killed it without much trouble.
It left a big mark on the floor though."
Bugg said that although she was traumatized by the
experience and has since switched majors to computer science, she is
thankful Acme stepped in when they did.
"Thank God they responded so quickly," she said.
"They saved my life, not to mention my sanity. But I still get the
creeps whenever I open my fridge."
This bloke and his family were on holiday in the States and
went to Mexico for a week. As he is an avid cactus fan he bought a rare and
expensive cactus there, it was about a metre high and cost about $500 Aus.
He got it home and the customs people were none too impressed so they said
it must stay in quarantine for 3 months, cost - $800 or so.
He finally got his cactus home and planted it in his
backyard where over time it grew to about 2 metres or so in height. One
evening after a beautiful warm spring day he was out watering his garden and
thought he might give the cactus a light spray. This he did and was amazed
to see the plant shiver all over, he gave it another light spray and it
shivered and shook again. All its arms moved. He was puzzled so he rang the
council who put him on to the state gardens. After a few transfers he got
the states foremost cactus expert who asked him many pointed questions, how
tall is it, how tall was it when you got it, has it grown well, has it
flowered, what type of spines etc etc. Finally he asked a most disturbing
question, " is your family in the house?".
The guy answered yes, the cactus expert said get them out of
the house NOW, get on to the front nature strip and wait for me, I will be
there in 15 minutes. Ten minutes later, 2 fire trucks, two cop cars and an
ambulance came screaming around the corner at the end of the street and
stopped out the front of the house.
A fireman got out and came up to him, " are you the guy
with the cactus?". I am he said. The fireman turns to the truck and
says 'come on Dave'. A guy jumps out of the fire truck wearing what looks
like a space suit, a breathing cylinder and mask attached and what looks
like a scuba backpack on with a large hose attached.
Stay here, says the first fireman, and they both headed for
the backyard. This was too much for the bloke so he ran around after them
and found the guy in the space suit was torching his prize cactus with a
flamethrower, he sprayed it up and down with this huge flame which fried
everything within a ten metre radius of the cactus, caught fire to the back
fence and set off the neighbours trees as well. The guy of course was having
kittens, what the $%^& is going on etc etc, after about ten minutes the
flame thrower man stopped, his cactus stood there smoking and spitting, half
the fence was gone, his garden was entirely rooted.
Just then the cactus expert appears and laid a calming hand
on the guys shoulder. "What the hell is going on?" says the bloke,
'let me show you' says the cactus man.
He went over to the cactus and picked away at a crusty bit
of it, it was almost entirely hollow and filled with these tiger striped
bird eating tarantula spiders, about the size of two hands spans.
The story was that this type of spider lays eggs in this
type of cactus and they hatch and live in it as it and they grow to full
size. When they are all grown to full size they release themselves, the
cactus just explodes and about 150 of these plate size tiger striped hairy
spiders are flung from it, dispersing everywhere of course. They had been
just ready to pop, can you imagine???????????
The aftermath was that his house and the two houses
adjoining on each side had to be vacated and fumigated and sealed up for two
weeks, yellow police tape was put up outside the whole area and no one was
allowed in for two weeks, then they gave the all clear and they could move