A peculiar discovery on a bush trail in Queensland this week ended in horror for a bushwalker who spotted a group of unusual pods hanging from a bottlebrush tree.
Wondering what they were, the nature enthusiast said she's "never seen them anywhere" in the Glasshouse Mountains area, southeast of the state, despite running 50km around the area each week. So she snapped some photos with her hand in one for scale, and went online looking for answers.
She took to Facebook to pick the brains of "amateur entomologists". Needless to say, the bushwalker was not thrilled about the answer she was given.
"What are these? Spotted on a trail run on a quiet back trail in the Glasshouse Mountains," she posted on Wednesday, admitting they're "quite large".
"They were hanging from a web-like structure about 1m up on a bottle brush."
Woman terrified after unusual pods identified
The pods were swiftly identified as spider egg sacs belonging to the Magnificent Spider, scientifically known as Ordgarius magnificus. They've also been dubbed the 'sushi' or 'marshmallow' spider by some because of their distinctive markings.
"Magnificent spider. I had the privilege of seeing one making an egg sack years ago in my front yard," one person shared in the comments. "The greatest spider around," another chimed. The bushwalker, however, wasn't so pleased by the revelation, appearing panic-stricken in the comments.
"It's a spider sac?!" she questioned alongside a series of 'shock' emojis. "I put my freaking finger against a spider sac?!"
"I need therapy. Intensive therapy," she added, before joking she will have to "cut off her arm".
'Very cool' magnificent spiders found in eastern Australia
Although terrifying for some, thankfully magnificent spiders — part of the Bolas spider group — are not dangerous to humans, Simon Hinkley, Museums Victoria Research Institute's Collection Manager of Terrestrial Invertebrates, confirmed to Yahoo News Australia.
Dr Lizzy Lowe, a researcher from Sydney’s Macquarie University, agreed and said they're "very cool" spiders that are commonly found in Queensland and New South Wales.
Hundreds of spiders in one sac
The spiders like to dwell in native trees in dry or wet Australian forests — but have been known to pop up in suburban gardens. Their characteristic spindle-shaped egg sacs are usually always hanging near the retreat, the Australian Museum says.
A single egg sac can contain 600 spider eggs, and the female spider will construct the sacs over several nights. "The egg sacs are attached to a branch, and may number up to seven. They are often parasitised by wasps and flies,” the museum's website reads.
Magnificent spiders have very distinctive markings
The unusual look of the magnificent spider often baffles people who might not be familiar with the species.
"The female magnificent spider is very distinctive in its markings. It is white with two bright yellow knobs on its abdomen, and a number of salmon-coloured spots and blotches as well," the museum says.
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