How to Photograph Really Large Spiders (If You’re an Arachnophobe)

Huntsman Spider © Jungle Pete

How to Photograph Really Large Spiders (If You’re an Arachnophobe) by Jungle Pete Corradino

This is a Huntsman Spider.

The Huntsman Spider is a very large spider. This is not a good photograph of a spider.

1)    If the spider is in your home, make sure you have created an escape/panic/freak out route. Open a sliding glass door. Blow out candles. Pick babies up off the floor.

2)    If you intend to dispatch the subject after the shoot, make sure your method of destruction is suitable for your enclosure. Baseball bats, whether aluminum or wood are inappropriate.

3)    Use a tripod with a remote to avoid violent, nervous shaking.

4)    Consider a fast shutter speed and a zoom lens to stay as far away as possible.

5)    Kill first, ID later is not an option with spiders. They curl up or even disintegrate. Respect nature. Escort the natives outdoors. Humanely dispatch the invasive species.

The Huntsman is an invasive species, native to Asia and now found throughout the Gulf States and California. Their colloquial name is “Banana Spider”, having most likely arrived in the U.S. with banana imports. They are often confused with Nursery Web Spiders (Pisaurina mira) and the infamous Brown Recluse (Loxosceles recluse) which can inflect a seriously harmful bite. The Huntsman is distinguished from similar spiders by brown “false eyes” on the cephalothorax.

Huntsman Spider © Jungle Pete

The female Huntsman Spider (Heteropoda venatoria) has a body nearly an inch long and carries a white egg sack underneath the body. Both males and females have hairy legs that make the arachnid the size of an average man’s hand. They are ruthless hunters and are valued for their appetite for roaches. The preference is to have them as the first line of defense on the outside of your house.

This one must have hitched a ride down from the attic with the Christmas ornaments. My wife came into my home office, held up eight fingers and pantomimed tiptoeing. I interpreted this to be “it’s eight o’clock, be quiet and don’t wake the baby.” Nope. Eight-legger in the ceiling corner of the bathroom.

The Huntsman has been known to inflict humans with a bite that resembles a harsh bee sting. It’s better if they’re outdoors. This one had three strikes against it. I don’t like hairy-legged spiders. It’s an invasive species. It’s in my house.

The Huntsman is a speedy little devil and any time wasted on photographic endeavors could result in its escape. I have no interest in allowing a hand-sized, biting spider free in my home with my child. So I snapped a quick picture of the beast gobbling the half dollar-sized “good” house spiders before “capturing” it with a web broom. In this case the Huntsman became the hunted.

Pete Corradino (Southeast)

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