Escaped Tarantulas Cause Panic on Plane

A passenger found one crawling up her leg
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2016 6:59 AM CDT
Escaped Tarantulas Cause Panic on Plane
Moreau says that at first, she thought the tickling sensation was a wire brushing against her leg.   (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

It sounds like a nightmare come true, especially for people afraid of both flying and spiders: On a recent flight from the Dominican Republic to Montreal, two escaped tarantulas caused chaos and terrified passengers, including a woman who was watching a movie when she found one crawling up her leg, the CBC reports. Catherine Moreau—who was wearing a skirt—says she had to hit it to get it off her leg. "My husband managed to trap it in a plastic container, but its legs were sticking out," she says. "My daughter was screaming, she was in a state of shock." Other passengers screamed and stood on their seats after discovering a second tarantula was loose in the cabin. That one wasn't captured until after the flight landed in Canada.

Moreau—who was scratched and is seeking a partial refund for the flight—says flight attendants weren't much help, the Independent reports, though a spokeswoman for their union says they tried to calm people down and asked passengers to put their shoes on. The airline says most passengers remained calm and staff did their best in an "extraordinary and isolated event." University of Montreal entomologist Étienne Normandin tells the CBC the tarantulas were probably the species Phormictopus cancerides, which is common in the Dominican Republic and is "aggressive, but the venom is not strong." He says they were probably hidden in the luggage of a passenger who planned to sell them. (A new tarantula species found near Folsom Prison was named after Johnny Cash.)

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