An image shows a massive spider known as an "Angolan Witch Spider" attached to the side of a house. Is this photo real or fake?
It’s a hoax.
There are several reasons why one may conclude that this photo is fake, as described below.
The image is often shared in one of two variants: as a meme, or just the image itself. The meme contains the caption, “Meanwhile in Australia.” A version of the image recently included the caption: “In Texas this abnormally large spider was found on the side of this home. It took several gun shots to kill it.”
Even later social media sharing included a name for the creature: the “Angolan Witch Spider.”
Below are the two versions of this image seen most often online. The first was sent to us by its creator, and was originally entitled “Sure you want to move to Florida?”
Eventually the photo was turned into a meme by someone else and circulated with the following caption:
We were able to track down the creator of this image, artist Paul Santa Maria from the website ArtOfPencil.com. When we first reported on this image in February 2013, he kindly gave us a detailed account of the photo’s creation:
I was outside with a Canon point-and-shoot at my former house in New Smyrna Beach, Florida on a hot day – this Wolf Spider (note he has only 7 legs!) was sitting in the shade on a concrete block – I shot him, then the side of the house and painstakingly cut the Spider out in Photoshop 7 and flew him into the house pic, then equally painstakingly painted shadows. (If one just used the “Drop Shadow” effect, then it would look unnatural as light bounces all around the place when outside, not just down…) anyway, these spiders are as big as your palm and this house has tile floors – they get in all the time and I swear you can HEAR THEM WALKING ON THE TILES!!! No kidding!
He posted the image on Facebook but removed it after over 24,000 shares. As he describes:
I was just having fun, but I took it off my own Facebook page after complaints from friends with children that I was scaring the pants off them! Haha – success!
In addition to Mr. Santa Maria’s Photoshop confession, spiders simply do not get that large. This appears to be a wolf spider, which typically only grows up to a couple of inches in size. The spider in the image only has 7 legs, which some have pointed out as further evidence of a fake photo, but this isn’t an uncommon sight to see in the wild.
The largest spiders in the world are such large varieties as the Giant Huntsman Spider or the Goliath birdeater, with perhaps a 10-12-inch leg-span possible. A pre-historic spider may have reached a 20-inch leg-span size, meaning modern “large” 12 inches spiders are certainly a long way off from the creature seen in this photo. See more about the world’s largest spiders here.
Although not many people are fooled by an image of such a massive spider, those arachnophobia types probably tend to err on the side of caution and look it up just in case. And in this case, it is certainly not real.
We’d like to thank Paul from ArtOfPencil.com for clearing this up for us.