A British tourist claimed that a spider laid eggs in his toe on a trip to Marseille, however experts are baffled by his account, calling it “impossible”.
Colin Blake, from Cramlington, Northumberland, was on a cruise to celebrate his 35th wedding anniversary when his big toe swelled up alarmingly following a stop in Marseille in the south.
The swollen toe was treated by the ship’s doctor, who told Mr Blake it was due to a spider bite - and what is more - that the wound contained eggs.
The doctor performed an incision to drain it, with black dots apparently visible in the pus.
Speaking to CNN, Mr Blake said he told him they were eggs: “Don’t worry, I’ve got them all out,” the doctor reportedly said.
The toe was still swollen on his return to the UK, where it was treated by the NHS, who prescribed him six weeks of antibiotics.
In the inpatient letter, his symptoms were attributed to a “spider bite in Marseille (Peruvian wolf spider)”.
Precisely how or why the wolf spider was identified as Peruvian is unknown.
During a second incision, a “spiky object,” was removed by an NHS podiatrist.
“I asked him what are the spikes, and he told me that they would eventually become the legs,” Mr Blake told CNN.
He is set to make a full recovery.
An ‘impossible story’
Mr Blake’s alarming tale has been reported in the BBC, CNN, Sky News and The Independent, among others.
However, experts have dismissed the claim.
“No spider on this earth can lay eggs in a person’s toe,” said veterinary entomologist Prof. Nancy Hinkle on CNN.
French spider expert from the Paca region and member of the Association Française d'Arachnologie, Anne Bounias-Delacour, agreed.
“It’s a completely impossible story,” she told The Connexion.
“Wolf spider eggs are in little silk sacks that the mothers carry on their abdomens until their young are mature. They can’t inject them into animals with a bite! Nor can any spiders.”
“The only reason that wolf spiders bite a human is to defend themselves,” she said. “It would not have approached him to bite.”
Wolf spiders are not poisonous, however their bites can cause discomfort, itchiness or infection in some cases.
“It’s possible that this was an infected bite, but he certainly did not see spider eggs in the pus. That could have been anything,” said Ms Bounias-Delacour.
“There is actually a type of mite that lays eggs under the skin, however no cases of this have been recorded in France. It’s more common in Indonesia.”