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‘It was so thick’: B.C. woman’s giant spider photo horrifies, but experts say not to fear

The Pacific folding door spider is native to the area, and while it looks scary is not dangerous to humans.
The Pacific folding door spider is native to the area, and while it looks scary is not dangerous to humans. Krysten Leigh

If you’re arachnophobic, you might want to skip this one.

A Victoria-area woman’s photo is getting international attention thanks to its rarely-seen eight-legged subject matter.

Langford resident Krysten Leigh snapped the picture on a recent walk with her Pomeranian Chewie.

“He was pulling on the leash quite hard, harder than normal. And when I looked over, I saw this black spider sitting there and I thought it had to be fake because it was so thick — which sounds gross — but it was, so I had to take a double look,” she said.

“When I realized it was real, I just pulled my dog back so fast. I took a picture, because it was pretty cool, and then booked it out of there real quick.”

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Leigh posted the photo to Facebook, where it has been shared hundreds of times and has attracted large numbers of comments, many horrified.

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What Leigh saw isn’t a tarantula, though it is a relative. Biologist Claudia Copley, manager of the Royal B.C. Museum’s entomology collection, says it’s a Pacific folding door spider.

The species, which can live up to 20 years, is native to B.C.’s Pacific coast and plays an important ecological role, said Copley.

However, they aren’t often seen because they live in underground burrows. And Copley says there’s also a historical reason why the creatures may seem strange.

“I think the reason why people are so surprised that they could live here their whole lives and not see one is because a lot the of spiders we do see are all introduced,” she said.

“They’re ones that came with people and like to live where people are and the folding door spider isn’t that kind of spider.”

Copley says the photo in question is also actually a little deceptive — it’s subject is only about five centimetres.

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The arachnid isn’t dangerous either, though it does have a mild venom it uses to stun its prey: generally insects that happen to wander by the burrows.

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I just always want to reiterate the spiders are our friends, and this isn’t a dangerous spider,” she said.

“They’re not causing any harm. In fact, they’re doing a lot of good.”