Tasmania – Big Pholcid Spider

2014 January 29

I spotted this large, long-legged spider on the ceiling near my parent’s north-facing[1] window.

This looks a lot like the cellar spiders that we have in large quantities in Michigan, except for one detail – the size. This spider was easily four times as big as the ones I’m used to seeing[2]. Here we can see that it is so big, the legspan was wider than Sam’s wrist.

I think this might have been a male, it looks to have really big, swollen pedipalps (that I unfortunately didn’t get a really clear picture of, so here are a few kind of blurry ones):

That last one gave a pretty clear shot of the underside of the abdomen, and I don’t see the epigyne that a female would have, which is one more sign that this one is probably male.

While it is pretty big, it is no more dangerous than the little ones back home, which is to say, not dangerous at all. And, as far as that goes, they are known to eat other, actually venomous spiders, like redbacks. This doesn’t mean that they are more venomous than the other spiders, they are just quicker. Kind of like how a mongoose can kill venomous snakes without being venomous themselves.

[1] Since this is the southern hemisphere, the north-facing windows are the ones that the sun shines in through.

[2] The thing is, I’m pretty sure that in spite of the size difference, this is the same species as the ones we have in Michigan. I think that the environment is just so much more congenial to them in Tasmania that they get a lot bigger there. They can evidently live for several years, so either this one has grown faster than its Michigan relatives, or it has lived longer.

6 Responses
  1. Sonja permalink
    July 7, 2016

    I just moved into a new house, well new to me in southern Indiana. The last few days I have woken up to some kind of bite marks the first one was on my back I couldn’t see it, I only felt a bump. I thought it was a zit so I picked at it. Later, when my husband got home I showed it to him. He said it was a big hole! The following days I got another on my chest three on my arm and three on my stomach. They itch and they are blistered with like a clear yellowish fluid, I have tried not to scratch them and if I have to I do it through the clothes. The one next to my bellybutton is the largest so far it’s draining clear us yellow stuff and looking crusty around it. They are just appearing out of nowhere they are not mosquito bites! They are not zits as I am not even prone to getting zits. I was told that this house was vacant for sometime before we moved in. I’ve been doing a lot of vacuuming and unpacking and then all of a sudden I would just start itching and there’ll be another bump. Within minutes the bump is fluid filled. Please do you have any idea if there’s some kind of spider biting me? If not a spider what could it be? The house had just been painted inside and new carpet and pad put down before we moved in so I do not think it is fleas or anything of that nature

  2. July 7, 2016


    This doesn’t sound like bites to me, more likely it is an allergic reaction to something, or maybe small splinters such as one gets from fiberglass insulation. It could even be poison ivy, as far as that goes. If they don’t clear up in the next couple of days, I’d recommend seeing a doctor about them.

    One thing I’m pretty confident about, is that they aren’t spider bites. Spiders only bite if they are responding to a threat (and they are unlikely to bite even then), they don’t seek people out to bite them.

  3. Sonja permalink
    July 7, 2016

    Thank you so much! I’m relieved to hear that you don’t think they’re spider bites! Although I DID forget to mention they have (some of them) a black dot in them…the couple that I DID “pop” (thinking they might be a zit, left big holes.

    I’ve been vacuuming up a lot of spiders in this house…most of which are dead wolf spiders, therefore, I was really scared that there’s some other spider that’s getting me in my sleep. However; it’s not just in my sleep. I will go about my day and all of a sudden start feeling an itch, THEN is when the bump appears. As i mentioned before, the bump goes from just a bump to a yellowish/clear filled pustule. I’ve left then alone, and a couple have gotten pretty big & then started draining on their own. The part that’s got me stumped is they’re just random places. Not concentrated in one area.

    I really appreciate your quick response…I honestly didn’t think I’d get a response at all! You (or you guys) are awesome!! ?

  4. carla permalink
    November 11, 2018

    Here in Tassie we call them daddy long legs. Legend has it they are very venomous, but their fangs are not strong enough to penetrate human skin – I don’t want to find out either way 🙂

  5. November 13, 2018

    Carla: As it turns out, the Mythbusters checked this one out a while ago. They had the venom extracted, and compared with black widow venom by injecting it into mice, and the mice had much less reaction to their venom than to black widow venom. Then Adam put his arm into a cage full of them until one eventually bit him, and said that it just felt like a pinprick, with no lasting reaction.

    The video is here: https://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/videos/daddy-longlegs-minimyth

    So, I guess you don’t need to worry about them in any case.

  6. Carla permalink
    November 13, 2018

    Thanks for that info Tim. Sure makes me feel safer, plus I can set the record straight with anyone who mentions “legend has it” ?

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