National Geographic : 1944 Oct
What the Fighting Yanks See New Caledonia had re ported, although Aus tralia has its Nephila, too. This was what the Australians called a real "triantewonde gong," and the Yanks tagged it a "whopper." It is the huntsman spider (Isopeda or Delaena), commonly but mistakenly referred to as the tarantula. Australia's triante wondegong is a true night prowler. It hides its furry hugeness un der the loose bark of trees and logs during the day and slips out from its hiding place only after the sun goes down. It ambles along in a sidewise, or crab like fashion, seeking food and diversion. "We didn't need a weatherman to tell us when it was going to rain," said the Cape York Yank. "We just watched those fuzzy devils move in and take over. Sometimes the inside of our tent was plastered with them." "Smelling" a storm seems to be one of their specialties. Long be fore the first cloud has © Merl La Voy Conch Shell Serves as a Bugle for This Solomon Islander Temporarily giving up the pipe, held in his left hand, he blows a hearty blast. Americans found the blond hair-do was achieved by bleaching with lime and that it discouraged vermin from building nests in the owner's "bush." appeared, these fur coated weather prophets roll their forecasting eyes skyward and scoot for the nearest shel ter. Once inside, they become pay-as -you-go guests, earning their keep by catching flies, insects, and moths. None of the boys reported having been bitten by these prowlers. "We didn't give 'em a chance-we swatted 'em wherever we found 'em," several told me. In most cases the swatting was unnecessary. Out of Australia's vast spider population and there are over 1,200 listed species-only three are definitely known to carry a bite poisonous to man. Neither the bloated-look ing web-building Nephila nor its equally dangerous-looking spider relative, the hunts man, has so far been proved guilty. But spiders, poisonous or not, centipedes, trees with teeth (nettle or stinging trees Laportea gigas), and flies "so thick that before you could spear a piece of meat from your plate it was gone, just carried away by the darn flies" were the main concerns of the Cape York Yanks. Boys in other parts of Aus tralia had their problems too, but their eyes were often focused on even stranger things. Because Australia,* a continent nearly the size of continental United States, has been iso lated from other land areas of the world for a longer period than has any other sizable land * See "Capital Cities of Australia," NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC MAGAZINE, December, 1935, and "Beyond Australia's Cities," December, 1936, both by W. Robert Moore.