Dec 15

Enormous freaking spider

Category: animals

My wife, who is mortally afraid of spiders, came to me a few years ago and announced that she’d found the largest spider she’d ever seen.  I hear this kind of thing all the time, and dutifully trudged off to relocate the animal, expecting a tiny blond spider.  But this time she was right (see her account of the story here).  On the kitchen floor I found a spider the size of a 50-cent piece.  A spider that could move like the wind. The kind of animal that winds up running over the back of your hand while you’re trying to capture it, and you can feel its weight.

Of course, I captured it and spent hours photographing it.  Since I’ve been posting bugs lately, I had to post about it.  Don’t forget to click to make it bigger…

The good folks at ID’d it as a “rabid” or “rapid” wolf spider (both apt names).  Wolf spiders can bite people, but usually don’t.  I didn’t take too many chances.  If you look at this image below, you can see the giant mandibles gleaming dully through the “hairs” on its mandibles.  They look like iron meat hooks.

While working with it and looking at it through my magnifying stack of lenses, I noticed for the first time – but not the last while looking at spiders – that it worked its jaws constantly and that it had what appeared to be a tongue, a little pink catlike one, and that the interior of its mouth was wet.  I didn’t realize that spiders had mouths that could open or had saliva, and maybe I didn’t understand what I was seeing, but it sure looked like a little pink mouth with a tongue in it – one that worked maniacally as its huge mandibles rubbed against each other in anticipation of plunging them into the next victim.  Definitely creepy.  It was like a corny villain rubbing his hands together in anticipation of an evil deed.  I could see it looking at me with its many eyes and reacting to my movements.  It didn’t like the flash, but it got used to it.

Spider eyes, by the way, are very different than insect eyes.  For one, spiders do not have compound eyes.  Their eyes are more like our own, or at least, some of their eyes are like ours.  The various sets of eyes are specialized for different purposes – some for use in sensing prey at a distance, some for manipulating prey while feeding, etc.  Kind of like the little video cameras that can be installed on RVs or SUVs for backing up.

Another cool thing about spiders is how they have little cat feet, if you look closely.  When relaxed, they test the surface much like my cat does when she’s walking on something unstable.

Some people keep these as pets. Check out this disturbing image:

Image by Brett Tyler

Image by Brett Tyler

Here is a shot to show you how big this thing was, and also another fact: spider feces looks like bird crap.

More images of this guy can be found here.  I didn’t name it; suggestions, anyone?

And no, I didn’t keep the profoundly creepy thing.  It lives in the back yard now.


14 Comments so far

  1. Kelly O December 17th, 2008 10:19 AM

    ?!! This post gave me the serious heebie-jeebies.

  2. kyle cassidy December 17th, 2008 12:42 PM

    You should check out drag0nette’s blog:

    a couple years ago she found a spider when she’d moved from australia to singapore, she was worried she’d introduced a non-native species so took it to the local university where they ID’d it as local. they encouraged her to keep it and they developed the most remarkable relationship. it was amazing how attached i got to the story — i cried like a baby when her spider died, so did hundreds of people around the world. i never would have thought. she’s onto her fourth or fifth generation now.

  3. laura August 19th, 2010 2:19 AM

    i have these suckers all over my house. at first i thought they were brown recluse, but thanx to this website, i know what kind of spider they are now. not that i like them any more than any other spider, i hate them actually, but now if i get bit by one, i know what to tell the dr.

  4. tami July 15th, 2011 6:47 AM

    Thanks for posting and researching this spider, I too thought this could be a brown recluse. I was cleaning in my yard when I ran upon one. Once bitten by a black widow spider has left me “slightly” cautious of my garden guests. Don’t think I want him as a pet!!!! Suppose I will release him now if he will cause me no harm.

  5. Dave December 15th, 2011 2:32 PM

    Last night, my wife starting screaming from the bathroom. When I got there, she was standing on top of the garden tub telling me to “kill that huge spider”. Today, I was looking at the photos online, trying to identify it as I had taken photos of it with my phone. The one we had was actually bigger than this one. I took some tp, and got down and tried to smash it (it was on the 6″ baseboard), but it managed to get away (minus a couple legs). The thing FLEW into the bedroom, and I leaped at it and finally killed it….while my wife was screaming at me not to let it get away.

    Interestingly enough, a month prior to this, she got bit by “something” while in bed, it actuall woke her up. It was inbetween her toes. After a day of itching, it started to develope a puss sack and get painful. Then, her foot swelled up really bad. I took her to the Doctor, and they prescibed her anti’s, and for the next 4 days the swelling got even worse. They changed her to other anti’s and put her on steroids. Finally, after 6 days, she could go back to work.

    So, since that had just happened, she was extra “scared” of getting bit again.

  6. Dan Greenspan December 21st, 2011 9:06 PM

    Dave, I don’t know for sure, but I doubt that bite came from a cave cricket. At some point in dealing with my infestation, I pulled a G. Gordon Liddy and held one. Maybe I just got lucky, but neither that one, nor the others ever bit me. They can bite – but I doubt they could break the skin. Regardless, nobody wants those hideous things popping all over the place!

  7. Janice June 29th, 2012 1:51 PM


  8. Dan Greenspan June 29th, 2012 5:05 PM

    Not only did I catch it, I put my face close to it for hours to observe it. I think it had a tongue, and it had a habit of rubbing its mandibles together evilly.

  9. Rosemary March 19th, 2013 9:03 AM

    Can u email me and help me figure out what this spider is I have bunches of them

  10. Dan Greenspan March 19th, 2013 10:41 PM

    The spider is a “Rapid Wolf Spider.” It is not something you have to be afraid of; it is killing other bugs in your house.

  11. BKellz August 16th, 2013 9:15 AM

    This was such a well-written post that I just had to comment on it. My husband sprayed one of these in our bedroom last night and lots of baby spiders started running around it. That freaked us out. I kept the mother and 2 of baby spiders for identification purposes. We are so relieved that they weren’t brown recluse spiders! Thanks for sharing this and for taking those wonderful pics!

  12. Scott Entomophagy January 30th, 2016 9:47 AM

    Beautiful photos of a common Wolf Spider, I say common as I live in the southern US; these cover the grounds here. I hunt and gather them at night by shining a very bright light across the yard and grasses, there eyes glow as green sparkly dots that most people assume are just dew on the grass, but when you follow down the reflective green lights there will be this spider at the end. I collect and eat them, they taste like a cross between crab and calamari. I make a beer batter with egg so it sticks well to them and deep fry them and eat them dipping in a sweet and spicy marinara sauce. Entomophagy wolf spider

  13. Benjammin October 1st, 2016 4:53 PM

    Cool! I found one of these today while going through some items stored in the garage. I found this posting while googling. I live near Colorado Springs, Colorado and see all sorts of interesting things out here in the country.

  14. Jane April 25th, 2017 6:35 AM

    I don’t want spiders ON me, but I admire them greatly and I think they’re beautiful. Spiders are amazing, smart, effective predators of insects – thank goodness.

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