N 35°51’43.29″ W 75°51’25.61″ Google Earth Location
Yeah, really inducing people to plan their own trips out to this location just to see species like this, aren’t I? Call me “Mr Incentive!” I originally had something else scheduled to go up here, but replaced it with this one for a particular reason and bumped the other back to next week. You see, Tuesday March 14th is the 120th anniversary of the first National Wildlife Refuge in the US – that would be Pelican Island NWR on the Atlantic coast of Florida. I may attempt to get out to one myself that day, but as I said last year, the nearest is still about 3 hours away, so not sure about that yet. Which brings us to this photo, because it was in consideration for the Tripod Holes topic when I remembered that this was actually taken within a National Wildlife Refuge – to wit, Alligator River NWR in North Carolina. And now as I type this, I recall that so is the one that I bumped to next week, but that’s okay, we’ll bracket the holiday. The next one will be cuter, but that really doesn’t say much, does it?
This is a golden-web spider, or golden silk orbweaver, or really, every variation of those that you can think of as well as banana spider and killthatfuckingthingwithfire – the scientific name is Trichonephila clavipes, at least. And it is big, the leg-spread spanning a little less than my palm if I recall, the web not quite a meter across. Until last year, I had not seen any as far north as NC, but have now found them in three locations – all more towards the coast, but if you’re not having any trouble sleeping at nights, know that it’s only a matter of time before they move further inland. Or maybe not, since they definitely seem to prefer marshy areas.
NC doesn’t have too many species that I would consider, “exotic,” for whatever definition that you prefer, but this is now one of them, large enough and funky-looking enough to carry it well out of the ordinary. And even as I leaned in close with the macro lens, practically brushing against the web, it never twitched, and I never expected it to; no spider species is aggressive to humans, and rarely even get defensive except to scamper away. I fully comprehend arachnophobia, having possessed it myself for much of my life, but it’s actually something that can be overcome, with exposure and knowledge about the species and even handling. Then, they become damn cool things to find and examine. So yeah, go ahead and plan that trip, and start the process!