Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ginormous Spider

Rain for the past week has made outdoor photography difficult to impossible and today when the sun finally peeked out it seemed like well past time to take a walk on the trail. About a kilometer east of town I came across a standing dead tree with the bark falling off and thought I'd peel it back some more to see what strange and weird critters might be lurking underneath, smiling and waiting to get their pictures taken. Well, I certainly got what I was looking for: I almost grabbed hold of the biggest spider I have ever encountered in my life! Despite its size it's almost invisible against the background of bark.

Based on the pattern of the eyes (zoom in on the next two images) and general appearance I think this a female Dark Fishing Spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus).

The spider was scurrying for cover so this lateral view is a bit out of focus but the photo serves to give an idea of how robust this arthropod is. It was in no way aggressive and once it got accustomed to my prescence I likely could have let it climb on my hand without fear of being bitten.

Just how large was this arachnid? The acorn cupule, the quarter (24 mm in diameter) and my thumb (the nail is 15 mm long) in the following images will give an idea of scale. With its legs extended the spider would have measured about three inches from front to back and easily spanned the palm of my hand.