Subject: Huntsman Spider in West Virginia?
Location: Harpers Ferry, WV
December 25, 2012 10:51 am
Hello! I came home one evening to find this beauty on my front door! I live in Harpers Ferry, WV, and have never encountered one like this. He/she was black, about an inch long in the body (about three to four inches overall), black and shiny. It was aggressive, rearing up at me when I shined a flashlight on it. This photo was taken the first week of December when we had an unseasonable warm spell. Your help with identification would be greatly appreciated!!
Signature: L. in West Virginia

Possibly Fishing Spider

Dear L.,
We do not know of any black Huntsman Spiders found in North America.  Given the size you describe, our best guess is a Fishing Spider in the genus
Dolomedes, but alas, there is not enough detail in your photo to be certain.  When we lightened the image, we could make out striping in the legs which is consistent with the Fishing Spider identification.  Female Fishing Spiders defend their eggs, and the behavior you describe would also support the possibility that this is a female Fishing Spider defending her eggs.  Fishing Spiders, though large and frightening, are perfectly harmless.

Thank you so much! I wondered if this might be a fishing spider as I
live right between the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers…I just never
seen one so far from the actual water and never one this dark in its
coloring! I am glad to know I can let visitors to the area know,
should they see one of these guys wandering around, that they are
perfectly harmless and should be allowed to go about their business.
Score one for the big little creatures of the world!

Location: West Virginia

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