Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia & Western North Carolina
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. -- Carl Sagan
For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible. -- Stuart Chase
Giant Spider Sightings
One man’s encounter with a giant spider on the border of Unicoi and Carter Counties seems to indicate that monster arachnids may call the mountainous regions in the Tri-Cities home. Science does not support the idea that spiders can grow to huge sizes, though giant spiders are not new to the annals of cryptozoology.
The largest known spider is the giant huntsman spider (Heteropoda maxima).
The Heteropoda Maxima in Laos [(Southeast Asia)], normally identified to be between 9 and 11.5 inches across, specimens
have recently (December 2008) been found to exceed a foot in diameter! (Squidoo)
Coming in close second is the goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi).
Goliath bird-eaters are the world's largest species of tarantula. Tarantula is a generic name for hairy spiders. This hairy
spider has a leg span of 12 inches (30.5 cm) across, or about the size of a dinner plate or small pizza, and they can
weigh 2.5 ounces (70 g). Their bodies are dark and light brown in color. Like most spiders they lack antennae and have
four pairs of legs. This giant spider is found in the northern South American countries of Suriname, Brazil, Guyana and
Venezuela. Its habitat is the wet swamps and marshy areas deep within the primary rainforest. (Schaffner)
Neither species are indigenous to the United States, but, Randy Buck reported to Murray Maloney of the Haunt Masters Club, wolf spiders may grow even bigger than the giant huntsman and goliath birdeater spiders. He said that his father was out hunting one day in the spring in the 1960s when he heard what sounded like a grouse tapping; it was on top of a fallen tree. He peeked around an evergreen and fired before it could fly away. What he found lying beside of the trunk, however, made his stomach turn. It was a giant wolf spider. He took it home. Randy said he remembered the spider’s body lying on the front porch for days until his mother swept it off into the yard. He could not remember what had happened to the remains after that. He assumed the dogs had carried it off. He described the body of the spider as being “as big a Blue Ridge China plate”, a circumference of just over a foot.
As revealed by P. D. Hillyard’s book The Private Life of Spiders, this tapping noise indicates that the mysterious arachnid was indeed a wolf spider. “In many species, an excited drumming of the palps, audible to the human ear, occurs as the male follows the pheromone trail of the female”. (Hillyard, p. 97)
However, the wolf spider (Rhabidosa rabida) “[ranges] in body size from less than 1 to 30 millimeters (0.04 to 1.18 in)”. (Top Turf Pest Control) The world’s largest wolf spider is the Deserta Grande wolf spider (Hogna ingens).
Its length including the legs measures 8 cm [(three inches)] and this makes it the largest spider of its genus in the world. Its
population is restricted to Castanheira Valley on the top of Deserta Grande [Portugal], where it lives hidden under rocks and
does not construct a web. (Madeira)
Could there be a species of wolf spider that grows much larger than those already classified? Cryptozoologists certainly seem to believe so. As evidence they point to a proposed monstrous spider that allegedly lives in the heart of the Congo.
The webpage "Possibility of the Existence of the Congolese Giant Spider” by Terrence Aym reveals that the Congolese giant spider is known throughout middle Africa as J'ba FoFi (CH-bah-FOO-fee) and is said to grow to a truly terrifying size. “The size of the Congolese Giant spider-when its legs are included-is said to be up to five feet across”. (Aym) The best documented sighting of this monster is recorded in Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology by George M. Eberhart:
"R.K. Lloyd and his wife were motoring in the Belgium Congo in 1938 when they saw a large object crossing the trail in front of
them. At first, they thought it was a cat or monkey, but they soon realized it was a spider with legs [spanning] nearly 3 feet
[across]." (Eberhart, p. 204)
On a webpage titled "The Spider Blood Circulation”, Ed Nieuwenhuys explains that there is no way that spiders can grow to such sizes. Their lungs do not allow for the amount of circulation needed to grow very large.
There were, however, spider-like formidable creatures in prehistoric times.
Once gigantic [spider-like] creatures ruled this world. They were as big as lions or gorillas. Their realm was the earth of the
Silurian geological era of 350 million years ago--a time of warm, quiet seas which, especially in the northern hemisphere,
covered large areas that now are dry land. These creatures were the euripterids, or sea scorpions, whose nearest extant
relatives are the horseshoe crabs with sky-blue blood that are common along the Atlantic coast of the U.S., and the venom-
fanged land scorpions. They exceeded in size all living invertebrate animals. (Stafford)