Giant Crab Spider with Spiderlings: one from our archives now a Facebook sensation

Facebook-group picture sparks curiosity
February 26, 2010
Well hello there anthropod lovers!
You’d be forgiven for reading this and thinking “this guy cannot possibly be serious” but this really intrigued me. There’s a facebook group entitled “if i saw this in my house I’d run” and their image is this one. I’m unsure as to whether the picture is original or tampered but that’s not the issue really i suppose, what is this spider? I’m almost convinced that it’s a huntsman spider of some sort but being a chemist not an anthropod expert I don’t have any reference material to look this up! Either way, that looks like one proud mother.
Also, although the picture quality could be better, it looks almost as if the larger spider is slumped – i’ve heard of spiders that are their babies’ first meal on hatching, could this be one of them?
(and to think some people complain about mothers breastfeeding, there are more objectionable ways for a mother to give her babies a good, natural start and you don’t see the arachnids complaining! imagine the fuss if the triplets suddenly turned to cannibalism on the bus instead, talk about controversy)
Thanks in advance for your time, it’s obviously understandable if you can’t reply 🙂
Unknown, Sorry

Giant Crab Spider with Spiderlings

Hi Andy,
Your letter and the attached image has us very curious in the light of the facebook group because we posted this image in March 2008 and made it the Bug of the Month at that time.  Now we are wondering if we had been duped because the image was sent by two different people then.   Neither person who submitted the image had taken the photo, but one person named Craig Baugher said the photo was taken by his friend in Los Angeles.  The photo might have already gone viral on the internet at that time.  We have learned to be very careful and now we try to only post images when we are certain that they have been taken by the person who submits the identification request, but we are not infallible.  The quality of the image we posted is better, and it is cropped differently, which leads us to believe that the current facebook sensation was not snatched from our site, but it may have been part of the original “chain” email and had gotten degraded along the way.  Due to the nature of the internet, we now doubt the authenticity of the claim in the letter we originally received that the photo was taken in Los Angeles since that could have been part of a hoax, though that is still possible.  We never conclusively identified the spider beyond the family level of Sparassidae, the Giant Crab Spiders, but Heteropoda venatoria in that family has a very wide distribution, especially in port cities, and that is surely a possible species in this case.  Heteropoda venatoria has several common names including Huntsman Spider.
Giant Crab Spiders do exhibit maternal behavior.  We are posting our version of this photo with your letter since it is higher quality, but when we have the time, we might search the archives on our other computer to see if we reduced the resolution on the original digital file.

Thanks for the speedy reply, and also apologies because I always say “anthropod” instead of “arthropod” – it’s really embarrassing. Curiosity is partly sated for now, but it is a voracious beast.
thanks again,

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