We’d been warned about storms, flash floods, alligators and water moccasins while living in Florida, but no one – NO ONE – warned us about the creepy spiders that seem to be lurking around and oozing from every crevice of our apartment complex in Pensacola.
Here’s what happened last week while my mom was visiting and Jonathan came back from walking the dog:
Jonathan – “Come downstairs and see this huge spider. It’s huge! Giant”
Me – “Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure honey. I don’t feel like going downstairs.”
Jonathan – “But it’s giant! Remember that huge spider at our old apartment that was bigger than a quarter? It’s bigger than that. It’s.. it’s…” *grabs a tennis ball* “It’s as big as this! It’s legs are longer than this!”
Me – “Okay, sure sweetie, whatever. Let me grab my shoes.” *a few minutes later while downstairs* “OMG, is that one of those spiders that eat birds?!?!”
Turns out it’s a Banana Spider, aka a Golden Silk Orb-Weaver. They are known for their giant golden colored silk webs (this web is large enough to catch my golden retriever) and yes, these spiders HAVE been known to eat small birds, and even small snakes. I Google searched this shiz, and it looks like the bite of this spider is potent, but not lethal to humans. It’s bite has a neurotoxic effect about equivalent to that of a black widow spider, though the venom itself is not as powerful.
Jonathan and I wanted to hold a leaf up to it for size reference, and when we tossed the leaf up there that sucker RAN to attack it. Seriously, it moved faster than a blink. I think I screamed and ran like a little girl. This thing is FIERCE.
And so naturally I’ve named it Shelob, and I’ve taken to bringing it insect offerings to garner goodwill and avoid being eaten in my sleep. My dad is in town visiting from California at the moment and we brought it a cockroach last night. It attacked and bit the roach with an audible crunch, and then carried it in its mandibles to the top of its lair. It looked like something from The X-Files. Or, ya know, probably something from Animal Planet, if I ever watched that channel.
THEN!! After discovering the Banana Spider, the very next day, Jonathan walks back into the apartment.
Jonathan – “Okay, come see this creepy spider in the yard.”
Me – “A new one?!”
Jonathan – “A new one. And this one is like.. a crab. Thing. With spikes.”
And lo and behold:
Creepier still, we pointed the spider out to Stephanie, one of our local breast milk donors, and she said she had never seen either of these spiders. And she has been a Pensacola, Florida native her whole life. I guess we’re just lucky??
After some Googling we found this one is called a Star Spider, aka a Spiny-Backed Orb Weaver. These guys are sad because they apparently live only to reproduce. The gals die after ovulating, and the guys die after sperm induction into a female. Ouch. Anyway, those spiky guys are relatively harmless as well.
Needless to say, Jonathan and I are steering clear of the trees outside of our apartment on future dog walks. It’s been fun, but two creepy spiders are enough fun for me.