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A Spider That Scared the World: Story of a Giant Spider’s Viral Picture Named ‘The Spider Room’ | The Weather Channel – Articles from The Weather Channel

Orignally published on 2021-10-27 15:24:08 by weather.com

The spider room

(Gil Wizen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Earlier this month, The Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards — an annual competition and exhibition developed and produced by the Natural History Museum — announced the winners for this year’s edition.

While the winning photographs consisted of some mesmerising, awe-inspiring images of wild animals and their environments, along with some poignant photojournalism stories, one of the pictures that attracted the most eyeballs was that of a seemingly giant spider.

Named the winner of the Urban Wildlife category, this photograph titled ‘The spider room’ was captured by an Israeli-Canadian photographer named Gil Wizen. Straight out of a Hollywood nightmare scenario, the photo scared so many people that it became an overnight viral sensation.

The circumstances that led to this capture were also no less nightmarish!

Spending his days in Napo, Ecuador, Gil was in his bedroom when he noticed several tiny spiders all around him. Then, as if heeding the advice of Hagrid from the famous Harry Potter franchise, he “followed the spiders” and was led to the underside of his own bed.

There, guarding its brood, he spotted one of the world’s most venomous arachnids: a human-hand-sized Brazilian wandering spider!

“Imagine looking under your bed, only to find the second most venomous spider in the world, which is also one of the world’s largest true spiders, sitting there guarding a thousand baby spiders that hatched from an egg sac. The mere thought of it would send chills down the spine of many people, and this is exactly the scenario I found myself dealing with while visiting a biological station in the Ecuadorian Amazon,” said Gil.

As playing roommates with this spider was out of the question, Gil had no choice but to relocate it outdoors. But before doing so, he photographed the spider — using forced perspective to make it appear even larger.

These Brazilian wandering spiders, also known as armed spiders or banana spiders, are mainly found in northern South America. Their bodies can reach up to 2 inches (5 cm), and their legs can span about 6 inches (15 cm).

They are called wandering spiders because they don’t usually build webs. Instead, they spend most of their day hiding, and come out at night to wander and actively hunt prey. They eat insects, other spiders, small amphibians, reptiles and mice, killing by both ambush and direct attack.

They are classified among the most venomous spiders on Earth. Their bites can be deadly to humans, especially children, although antivenin makes death unlikely.

While searching for arthropods in a forest near my home in southern Ontario Canada, I discovered a fishing spider (Dolomedes scriptus) under a slab of tree bark. Fishing spiders are common in wetlands where they feed on small aquatic animals, but they are also very common in temperate forests. The spider was in the process of producing an egg sac, so I decided to observe its behavior carefully without disturbance. I noticed it was spinning around in circles while also spinning webs, slowly constructing a silken disk that later turned into a hollow dish shape. At this point I decided to photograph the action, focusing on the separate silk threads coming out of the spider’s spinnerets. As I was watching the spider in its work, I couldn’t help noticing how similar the spinneret movements are to human fingers moving while weaving. I like that the photo shows the spider stretching the silk threads, right before incorporating them into the rest of the forming sac. After about an hour, the spider completed most of the sac and was getting ready to lay its eggs inside it, at which point I slowly moved the bark back in place and left the animal to its business. Spiders at the crucial stage of egg laying become stressed at the smallest disturbance and this can damage the embryos developing in the fresh eggs. I was happy with the photographs I got, and this was enough for me. There was no need to destroy the next generation of fishing spiders for the sake of obtaining more photos. 
Location: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. 
Technical specification: Canon EOS 7D; Laowa 100mm f2.8 lens; 1/100 sec at f10; ISO 100; Canon Macro Twin-Lite flash; custom made diffuser.

Spinning the cradle

(Gil Wizen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Meanwhile, yet another spider-related photograph captured by Gil also won him the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award in the Behaviour: Invertebrate category. The photo displays a fishing spider stretching out silk from its spinnerets to weave into its egg sac.

Gil discovered this spider under loose bark. The action of the spinnerets reminded him of the movement of human fingers when weaving. He had to take great care while photographing the spider, however, as any disturbance would have caused it to abandon its project.

Check out more winners from this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards here.

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Orignally published on 2021-10-27 15:24:08 by weather.com

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