Aussies stunned after farmer discovers ‘huntsman party’ under a bucket

Patrick Hatton's footage of the pile of huntsman spiders has gone viral.

An Aussie farmer has described the moment he got a “good fright” after stumbling across a heaving pile of huntsman spiders on a concrete block at his 10-acre property.

Patrick Hatton said he was going about his usual routine at Hattonvale Farm in Central West NSW on Monday when he made the startling discovery while putting away a bee feeder.

“[I] turned over the bucket that still has some sugar water in it and found these buggers under the bucket, sitting between the bucket and the Besser brick,” the 42-year-old military veteran told Yahoo News Australia.

The mound of huntsman spiders gathered on the concrete block.
Patrick Hatton discovered the mound of social huntsman spiders at his Hattonvale Farm in Central West NSW. Source: Patrick Hatton

“They did give me a bit of a shock, but only because I was keeping an eye out for bloody snakes as they seem to be around a bit this year. And mice as I’m scared s***less of mice and rats.”

The dad of three said he didn’t really know what to think about what he was seeing. “All I know is that I’ve never seen anything like it before, so I thought I’d post it to my TikTok account,” he said, explaining he posts videos of his antics on the farm, mainly for family members in Queensland.

TikTok of huntsman spiders goes viral

Much to Patrick’s surprise, just 24 hours after posting the clip of the writhing huntsman spiders, the footage has been viewed almost 200,000 times and is “still growing”.

“I actually had posted another video that day about a calf we had born the day before, thinking that would have got a few likes and views,” he told Yahoo. “I definitely didn’t think a video of a bunch of bloody huntsman spiders would get around that quickly!”

Aussies stunned by huntsman 'rave'

Many TikTok users agreed they had also never witnessed a “huntsman rave party”.

“I’m an Australian. 33 years on this earth. In this country. I have NEVER seen anything like this. I would have simply passed away,” one woman commented.

“Yeah, I’ve been around a lot of huntsman growing up. This is a first for me,” someone else said. Others said Patrick needed to grab a “flame thrower” and could add the incident to his “nightmares”.

Patrick Hatton wearing a green shirt and beige hat with a big beard.
Patrick said farm life keeps him 'motivated to do stuff every day' as he continues to battle PTSD. Source: Patrick Hatton

Social huntsman species: 'A family hanging out'

Experts confirmed to Yahoo News Australia the spiders in the video are Delena cancerides, otherwise known as the communal or social huntsman, and are native to Australia.

“We have a communal species of huntsman spider in Australia,” Dr Thomas White, a biologist at the University of Sydney said. “This looks like a cover was lifted off them, like a pot. So it’s a fair guess to say this is a family hanging out wondering where their shelter went.”

Dr Michael Rix, principal scientist and curator of arachnology at Queensland Museum Network, said the common species is “well known to occur in communal groups of individuals, including overlapping generations, usually under eucalypt bark but also other confined spaces.”

“The white structure is an egg sac produced by one of the females,” he said, noting that “these spiders are remarkably tolerant of each other” and are known to share prey.

“Some groups can include quite a large number of individuals,” Dr Rix said. “They have been the subject of extensive research on the evolution and dynamics of sociality in spiders.”

Patrick — who earlier this year had to burn his 10 to 15 bee hives after they were hit by the serious pest varroa mite — said farm life keeps him “motivated to do stuff every day” as he continues to battle PTSD. He said he might go “look under the other bee feeders now to see if there are any more” social huntsman.

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