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Fanfare Writing Venomous Creatures

#2
Very nice! Have to take issue with the idea that lorises are the only venomous primates, though: just look at the UK House of Commons.
Less facetiously, I'm not sure if you can say that prevenom is not venom -- it's just a less potent type of venom, no?
The evolution of venoms and toxins is fascinating...
 
#3
Am I correct in thinking that New Zealand only has one venomous creature, an endangered spider called the Katipo? Whereas, Australia has dozens of species of spiders, bees, jellyfish, snakes, lizards and scorpions that pack poison. :eek:
 
#4
My brother moved to Australia some years ago and was told that "just about everything that moves in the bush is out to kill you and they all love pommie blood".
Whereas on a trip to NZ I was told that there were no venomous creatures there at all. Whether that is true or not I'm not sure but certainly virtually all the wildlife in NZ is fairly benign, except for the sand flies which really do bite.
 
#5
Yes, the only dangerous venomous creature we have here is the endangered kātipo. I live just a few km from one of the prime remaining kātipo habitats, and have never seen one (not for not looking...I'm an entomologist, after all). Kiwis like to get all upset about the whitetailed spider--an Australian import. Its bite is painful and dirty--if you don't take care of it, it will get infected. But the venom itself isn't particularly dangerous. Without anything else to be frightened of, though, Kiwis have latched onto this spider as a horror.
 
#6
After being bitten on the cheek by a black widow, when I lived in Atlanta, and throwing up for nine hours afterwards, I became more wary of spiders. UK newspapers go hysterical about the false widow spider, which has established itself here, especially in the southeast of England, coming in on imported fruit and vegetables from Europe. Their bites can be nasty (gruesome images!)
 
#7
The yellow-tailed scorpion first arrived in the UK during the 18th Century. They are thought to have smuggled themselves into the country by stowing away on ships carrying Italian masonry. A census carried out in Sheerness Dockyard in 2009 estimated their numbers at around 10,000. They do sting but the venom is less powerful than that of a bee. Just as well, really!
 
#8
Very nice! Have to take issue with the idea that lorises are the only venomous primates, though: just look at the UK House of Commons.
Less facetiously, I'm not sure if you can say that prevenom is not venom -- it's just a less potent type of venom, no?
The evolution of venoms and toxins is fascinating...
I sort of feel the same way you do about the scorpion 'prevenom', but that's what arachnologists call it. Who am I, a lowly entomologist, to tell them they're wrong about their own study subjects? The key point for writers is that the scorpion needs to sting twice for your character to get really sick and/or die from it, but only once if you simply want to inflict pain on your character ... bunch of cheerful sadists we are ...
 

Rich.

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#10
Great article, Robinne. I finally got round to reading it this morning. I remember seeing many big spindly black and yellow spiders in Costa Rica (I have no idea what they were – I'm sure I was told but I've roundly forgotten). The locals took great pleasure in telling us that if a bloke was bitten by one he'd die in agony with dilated blood vessels.

Were they winding us up? Does this ring any bells?
 
#12
Great article, Robinne. I finally got round to reading it this morning. I remember seeing many big spindly black and yellow spiders in Costa Rica (I have no idea what they were – I'm sure I was told but I've roundly forgotten). The locals took great pleasure in telling us that if a bloke was bitten by one he'd die in agony with dilated blood vessels.

Were they winding us up? Does this ring any bells?
The big spindly black and yellow spiders in CR were probably the golden orb weaver. I featured them as wonderfully vindictive characters in one of my books. As far as I know they're pretty much harmless to humans. That said, it's near impossible to identify a spider from a verbal description, and maybe they were right ... I don't remember anyone in Costa Rica or Panama ever talking about any spiders as dangerous. They were wary of certain snakes (and rightly so), but weren't at all fussed about the arachnids. Our landlord used to squish scorpions with his bare feet, grinning at us as he did so, because he knew it freaked us out to watch him do it.
 

Rich.

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#13
The big spindly black and yellow spiders in CR were probably the golden orb weaver.
I've been looking at pictures of spiders, and the golden orb weaver certainly looks like the ones in my memories [that makes me sound like a Blade Runner replicant].

I featured them as wonderfully vindictive characters in one of my books.
Is it available to buy? What's the title? :)

I don't remember anyone in Costa Rica or Panama ever talking about any spiders as dangerous.
I always imagined our legs were being pulled. But you never know.

Our landlord used to squish scorpions with his bare feet, grinning at us as he did so, because he knew it freaked us out to watch him do it.
Wow! Now there's a character for a book!

Still in Costa Rica, I remember sitting one evening on the verandah of a clapboard house up in the mountains having a drink with the owner. I was wearing a white shirt, and glancing down I found what I can only describe as a black lobster-cricket-thing sitting on my chest, apparently grinning at me. I suppose a better man would know the name of the thing that accosted him, but once again I've no idea. It did make me jump pretty impressively though.

The owner's nine-year-old grandson laughed at me for the best part of an hour, which put me right in my place.
 
#14
I've been looking at pictures of spiders, and the golden orb weaver certainly looks like the ones in my memories [that makes me sound like a Blade Runner replicant].


Is it available to buy? What's the title? :)


I always imagined our legs were being pulled. But you never know.


Wow! Now there's a character for a book!

Still in Costa Rica, I remember sitting one evening on the verandah of a clapboard house up in the mountains having a drink with the owner. I was wearing a white shirt, and glancing down I found what I can only describe as a black lobster-cricket-thing sitting on my chest, apparently grinning at me. I suppose a better man would know the name of the thing that accosted him, but once again I've no idea. It did make me jump pretty impressively though.

The owner's nine-year-old grandson laughed at me for the best part of an hour, which put me right in my place.
LOL! Great story! No idea what you had sitting on your chest, but when we lived in Panama, we had lovely arachnids the locals called viudas (aka: tailless whipscorpions). Completely harmless, but they were fast and scary-looking. Took a while to get used to them hanging out on the walls at night. The windscorpions were freaky, too (again harmless)--they always seemed to be stalking you, and their giant chelicerae looked like they could bring down a horse (A moth was the largest thing I actually saw any of them eat). In the end, it was the harmless-looking little ants that nearly killed me, not the scary things.
 

Rich.

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Staff member
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#15
Ah, the old anaphylaxis-inducing Panamanian ant. I smiled when I got to that bit in your blog post. You've got that Edwardian tone when writing about danger – "The shock laid me up for several months. Pain like I'd never imagined (Margery told me later she thought I was a goner). Most inconvenient. But presently I pushed on with the expedition." ;)
 
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