WARNING!!! SPIDERMANIA!!! WARNING!!! WARNING!!! SPIDERMANIA!!! WARNING!!!

WARNING!!!  WARNING!!!  THERE ARE PHOTOGRAPHS OF EXTREMELY LARGE SPIDERS IN THIS POST!!!

I hope that was enough warning for those of you who may be a bit squeamish about spiders!  Let me be the first to admit that these spiders were both interesting and extremely creepy all at the same time!

A new exhibit has hit the area – it’s The Spider Pavilion at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.  YIKES!!!

With a rather harmless appearance from the outside, the spider pavilion looks very much like a large greenhouse with netting instead of glass.  Upon entering, you realize it’s very similar to entering a garden with flowering bushes, large plants, and small trees.  In fact, you may look around without even noticing there are spiders nearby.  That’s the mistake I made!!

As I entered the pavilion, I was taken aback by the natural setting.  I began to notice the beauty of the flora and immediately felt at ease.  Nothing to worry about here.  Well, nothing to worry about until I turned my head slightly to the right and saw this guy hanging mere inches from my head!!!  This specimen was the “Goliath” of Wood Spiders, much larger than normal.  Just my luck.

Nephila Maculata – the Common Wood Spider

This is the largest species of orb weaving spider in the world.  Even at this enormous size, it is not in any way dangerous to humans and can be easily approached. This was the largest spider I saw in the pavilion measuring around 6-7 inches across by about 10-12 inches long.  This spider was huge!!!  The webs that this species constructs are equally impressive. They can measure up to ten feet across and are strong enough to capture a small bird.

Whew!  That one was scary!!  I’m glad I warned you.  OK, let’s continue.

Nephila Clavipes – The Golden Silk Spider

This is the largest species of orb weaving spider found in the United States. Common in many of the Gulf states, this species can produce webs that are up to three feet in diameter. The silk that they use is one of the strongest biological fibers known to man – five times the tensile strength of steel.

Argiope Aurantia – The Writing Spider

Because it is such a generalist, the writing spider can be found throughout the temperate grasslands, prairie and scrublands of the North American continent.  This common spider, sometimes called the black and yellow garden spider, is regularly found in backyards, much to the dismay of unsuspecting gardeners. Argiope Aurantia prefers sunny areas among flowers, shrubs and tall plants. Open fields and meadows are another typical home for this sun-loving arachnid. Likewise, the Writing Spider can also be found on weeds and tall grasses in marshes; Argiope Aurantia enjoys open, sunny locations, long grass by the dunes or even a pretty flower by the driveway.

Argiope Aurantia – The Writing Spider

Nephila Clavipes – The Golden Silk Spider

Nephila Maculata – the Common Wood Spider

Nephila Clavipes – The Golden Silk Spider

Nephila Maculata – the Common Wood Spider

Nephila Maculata – the Common Wood Spider Web

I thought the web was particularly interesting as it seemed to appear quite “steel-like” though made from silk.  Again, this web has a tensile strength 5 times the strength of steel, can reach a diameter of 10 feet, and easily trap a small bird.

OK, I know I’ve seen enough!!  Wait…what’s this??  They’re leading me into a small room.  “Why is it necessary to exit through this room?”  Now, that seemed like a logical question!  “Please close your eyes and step forward, sir.”  As I stepped forward, I entered a small area closed off by heavy plastic strips that would contain most anything except for a human.  Wait a minute.  Just before I closed my eyes I saw a sign.  “What was that?  Something about hitchhikers?” I asked.  “Just one more step,” I was quickly told.  And at that moment I was struck in the face and in the back and seemingly from every direction by what I could only describe as gale-force winds!!!  Whoa!  “Don’t worry.”  I was told.  “Just walk through it.  You’ll be fine.”  All very reassuring, but I was still concerned about these “Hitchhikers!” 

Even after hurricane arachnophobia and a quick visual check determined there were no hitchhikers, I still felt the need for an immediate shower!!

AAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!  Once again I was reminded, “Sir remember, every spider in the pavilion is completely harmless to humans!”  Oh sure – harmless until they cause a heart attack!!!

This was a wonderful place!  I would highly recommend it.  It’s a place where you’ll find school children eagerly learning about the benefits of a 12″ spider (while the poor child who screamed a blood-curtling scream at her first sight of these wonderful creatures is carefully assisted to the exit and through the “Hitchhiker Chamber!)  You’ll see beautiful butterflies carelessly fluttering about dancing in the sunshine (until they unknowingly dance their way into a carefully camouflaged web and are quickly encased and injected with a poisonous bite – but, not poisonous to humans – while being stored away for a nice midnight snack.)  You’ll leisurely enjoy the beauty of the plants and flowers (until you turn around without a care only to find your head entwined in a web that you now know has 5 times the tensile strength of steel!)

Oh yes!  It was a wonderful experience!!  One I would highly recommend!

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I know spiders are part of God’s creation.  Yes, I know they have a useful purpose.  Yes, I’m quite certain they devour a bazillion insects each day – saving us the agony of those dreadful bugs.  (But, aren’t those dreadful bugs the spiders eat also a part of God’s creation?)  OK, now I’ve gone to far!

I know spiders can be a good thing – but I’m telling you these things were spiders on steroids!

Thanks for stopping by!  Your comments are always welcomed and encouraged!

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~ by photographyfree4all on November 4, 2010.

31 Responses to “WARNING!!! SPIDERMANIA!!! WARNING!!! WARNING!!! SPIDERMANIA!!! WARNING!!!”

  1. Scarcey enough in your photos with out seeing them up close and personal. It is not some place I would want to visit……
    Beautiful photos though. Are they really as big as they appear in the photos?

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  2. Steve,
    A very entertaining, educating, and fascinating read. Excellent photographs to illustrate. Very well done.

    Bob

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  3. Oh, I am so jealous! I love insects and arachnids! I’m very grateful to you for braving the spider pavilion and getting these wonderful shots. I especially loved Nephila Clavipes – The Golden Silk Spider. Why? Because of her furry looking leg warmers of course! Your macro skills are showing!
    Lynda

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  4. It was a bit unnerving to see them in their natural habitat! But, that’s also what made it so exceptional, as well! They were evry bit as big as they appear here – maybe bigger! Thanks for sharing this comment, Miss Betty!

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  5. Thanks, Bob! I learned a lot, myself. I thought it would be good to try and share it in an interesting way – although I have to admit, sometimes I caught myself stepping forward with extreme caution!

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  6. Hahaha! What a very fascinating post. That’s one exhibition I would definitely check out. The Wood Spider must be surreal. And, how amazing, that the silky threads of the second spider are five times stronger than steel. Wow–what a thought to wrap your head around.

    Thanks for the fun trek along.:) The thought of spiders on steroids is pretty funny.

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  7. Now that was a funny thought, Lynda, the “leg warmers!” I’m glad you stopped by because that makes it worth the trip! Now I would have wondered if it was worth it if nobody saw this post! Thank for sharing!

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  8. Whoa – no itsy bitsy spiders here! You are one brave soul to take these shots! I think the spider in photo 3 is my favorite (if I had to choose a favorite spider)! I enjoyed your journey through “spiderland, ” but it doesn’t make me want to go at all. 🙂

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  9. Very interesting post 😉 – I love spiders, and I wish i could go to this place for this great spider-experience!

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  10. What a very informative post! I really enjoyed reading about the spiders. I had no idea about the web being that strong. Amazing! Great shots also. Keep up the good work!

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  11. Hi heather. Thanks for stopping by today and sharing this comment. You’re one of the few ladies who really would enjoy this exhibition! I have to say, I did enjoy it! It was a little creepy, but after a while it was ok! I did learn a lot from the information about each species that I certainly didn’t know! Stop by again.

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  12. It’s funny, there were a few smaller spiders but they weren’t commanding much attention. They seemed content to be in the background or in the bushes. Thanks for stopping by Car54!

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  13. It definitely was a great experience. I wasn’t looking forward to it necessarily. But after I was there for a while, I did enjoy it. But I have to say it was rather chaotic at times with the smaller children becoming panicky at times. I’m glad you stopped by and shared this comment, Truels!

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  14. Hey Lynda, I forgot to thank you for your kind words about my macro photography. Thanks!

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  15. I have to say, I enjoyed gathering these shots and sharing this information, Michael! There was a lot that I learned from this experience. Thanks for stopping by today!

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  16. This is pretty much the most terrifying thing you’ve posted. And even though my pulse is racing just looking at these images, I can’t stop looking at them. Three is my favorite – the web looks like wisps of smoke. 🙂

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  17. Eeeeek! 😀

    Spiders fascinate me as well which is surprising since I absolutely was terrified of them as a child! I now have a healthy respect, as I have for all creatures, and have learned to appreciate their, yes, I’ll say it, exotic beauty. Not that I want them, especially these giants, crawling on me!

    Nice captures!

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  18. HAHA! Sorry about that, Jolene! I can relate as I felt much the same way when I entered the pavilion. I was hesitant – yet I couldn’t stop myself from getting as close as I possibly could for some of these shots! I have to say, that was the most unique web I’ve ever seen – extremely intricate, yet so much support structure to the design. Glad you stopped by to share your thoughts!

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  19. Thanks, Tracy!! I think I would freak out to have something this large crawling on me!! Maybe it’s a respect, but I know I would just as soon not be in the same room with them! Thanks for stopping by today and sharing your comments.

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  20. What an amazing and interesting post you’ve got here! I’ve always been a lover of spiders, perhaps partly becuse nobody else seems to like them, and somebody’s got to! These spiders look like they demand to be seen by any spider-lover or nature-lover!
    The shots are great, too! You seem to have managed to get an amazing amount of precision and detail. I like the shot of the golden silk spider in particular. That golden light shining THROUGH the creature’s legs makes it very intriguing! Also, the blur from the netting (which I imagine must be a frustrating problem)is pretty much invisible.
    Hats off and thanks for sharing!

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  21. Thanks for sharing this kind comments, Kai! I’m glad you stopped by today! The lighting was great for that shot! I loved it! The backgrounds were extremely difficult! If there wasn’t some sort of support structure creating horribly distracting lines, there were people gawking from every direction. It was possible if you were patient. Great comment. thanks.

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  22. Fantastic shots! Spiders seriously creep me out, but I do love how amazing they look. Kudos! I give you many many kudos for going into that place!!

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  23. Ummmm… Well I’m not normally overly concerned about spiders, and have even held a tarantula or tow in my time… but I certainly think I’d draw the line at a 12″ spider… harmless or not… lol… I’d still have to have a look though… 😉

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  24. Thanks for sharing this comment, Kuukisu. It was kind of a good thing – bad thing experience. they were creepy, but fascinating all at the same time. 🙂

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  25. See, I can look all dat at these creatures, but I’m not sure I would ever hold one on my hand, Brian! I think it would a creepy feeling – even though I know they’re harmless. So, I guess I’ve drawn the line, too. Thanks for adding this comment. I really appreciate it. BTW, I really like your photography! It’s excellent!

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  26. Sounds like a great place to visit and you got some awesome shots. I wouldn’t mind seeing something like that. But yet the idea of spiders, even harmless ones, in my house…YIKES!

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  27. You got some really good clear shots of those spiders! what lens did you use for them? where you using a macro setting? I just got a Canon Rebel T2i. (mainly for it’s wonderful Hd video capabilities, but love stills as well) and just posted a few pics i took the other day, would love to see what you think!
    reverencemedia.com
    if you scroll to the bottom there is a photos page as well with my best shots

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  28. yikes , spiders everywhere!! just found your blog and looking forward to browsing your past posts, i love your header tagline as i see myself heading down the same path

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  29. Thanks, Karen. It was fun getting these shots even though a bit edgy! I’m glad you shared this comment.

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  30. Hi Tim. Thanks for stopping by today. I was using my 28-135mm zoom using the macro setting most of the time. I heard you got a new camera! Exciting! Let me get over to your site and I’ll take a look.

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  31. Hey Greg, I’m glad you found me! Stop by often. We’ve had some interesting dialog here from so many people who contribute comments, advice, and expertise. Your shots tell me you’re well on your way in your journey! Stop by again!

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