Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Rather than make the image the very first thing you see, in deference to my arachnophobic readers please consider this a Spider Alert.

Warning: what follows is a pic of the largest spider I've seen (other than tarantulas in West Texas.)

How big was it?

I think the large abdomen was at least 1 1/2" in width. It looked like the size of a small plum.

(My apologies for not bringing something for scale near the Giant Lichen Orbweaver I saw, but I was mighty startled when it zipped a few inches in front of my face.)

It was so heavy, its web sagged alarmingly and needed extra support -- which the spider provided with at least six anchoring strands on one corner of the web alone.

Once I got over my shock, I caught a pic or two, and then sat on a nearby bench and waited for the spider to do something.

I must have scared it as much as it startled me -- it took a full 30 minutes before it decided it was safe, and slowly crawled arm over arm over arm over arm back up the web, over the anchor strands and into a little cedar-surrounded nook.

(Alright, you arachnophiliacs, this one's for you...)


Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks for the warning. Is this thing about to give birth - to - zillions more just like it??? YIKES!

polona said...

shelob's descendant?

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that's not a hermit crab with circus delusions?

Lori Witzel said...

Y'all are wildly brave...or have arachnophiliac tendencies!

Reya: Amazingly and horribly enough, if it were to give birth it would likely have a large egg sac attached to its ginormous body. And so, no, this is the svelte form, not the about-to-spawn form.

Polona: That gave me a grin! I now picture our Large Spider, sitting in her lair with a tiny TV (or possibly one of those video iPods snatched from a hiker) watching LOTR and cheering Shelob...

Marly: You cracked me up! Instead of a flea circus, a crab circus...wonderful image, that.

Pod said...

one hates to think what lurks inside that plump abdomen. oooog! you should see the size of huntsmen spiders here. i froze solid the first time i saw one in the house and had to get the old lady nfrom next door to come get it for me!

Anonymous said...

Does this make my butt look fat?

Anonymous said...

She's got gorgeous legs! Just been having a flick through. Wonderful range. Particularly like the tomatoes on blue - quite incredibly striking and simple.

Dana S. Whitney said...

Maybe it has some sort of organic condition. Heaven help us if it is distended by gas.
I would have fallen into a dead faint had this come as close as it looks. I hope you have a really LONG lens.

Lori Witzel said...

Hey all y'all!

Pod: Eeeeeeeewwwwww. Spider guts. I've seen some of Those Massive Bugs from your part of the world on entomology sites, and Oh. My. Gawd. Y'all have some seriously amazing insects.


Clare: After she realized I was Much Too Large to be lunch, she was very delicate about sitting there, poised, hoping not to Become Lunch I suppose.

KPW: Nope, it's apparently a typical orb-weaver heads-down hunting pose, with her abdomen "flipped" over -- a bit like a fat man's belly over his belt. The knobby shapes are part of this particular orb-weaver's appearance. No long lens -- I was about a foot away, and still not close enough for a good close up with my intermediate-range one-size-fits-all lens...but that was as close as I was willing to go!

Pod said...

a friend of mine in queensland battled underneath a spa bath with a broomhandle and a spider! it was pulling it! it turned out to be a bird eating one from papua new guinea!

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Beautiful orbweaver species! Plus, they typically spin HUGE orb webs. I'd be willing to bet that this one is a female.

Thanks for sharing!