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Thread: Spider with skull on back - please help identify

  1. #1
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    Spider with skull on back - please help identify

    We saw the most unusual spider if anyone can please help identify. It's abdomen section was very large (1 inch across) and completely round/circular/bulbous. The front part of its body was very small in comparison and you hardly noticed it because the abdomen was so bulbous. It wasn't hairy and its skin was rather smooth/waxy looking. The closest thing on the web I can find to its body shape is the Red-back spider (picture attached) but the one I saw had legs that were much thicker and not as pointy/spindly as the Red-back. And it had completely different colors versus the Red-back. Overall, it was yellow/gold. It's legs were yellow/gold/simi-transparent but still very thick, the legs had dark bands on them similar to a banana spider, but it most definitely wasn't a banana spider as I've seen hundreds of them and this one had a completely different body shape. On the top of its abdomen, it had a very colorful and unusual pattern, it was yellow/gold but then had a symmetrical pattern of green/red/black that was in shape of a face/skull/alien type face on it and that was what made it so unusual. I looked at pictures on the web and it isn't a Bird Dropping Spider. It was very large (in comparison to a house spider), if it stretched out, the leg length would have been 5 inches. It built its web very fast and didn't seem afraid of us standing right next to it (so perhaps it was poisonous). It was in Florida but it didn't look like any Florida spider I've seen before so it could have come from elsewhere. We took pics but they didn't come out well but I can try to download but if anyone can even point me in the right direction of ones to look at on the web as I've searched a bunch and can't find anything even close (the closest one I can find is the second image but the one I saw wasn't as hairy and the pattern on the abdomen looked like a skull and was more colorful). Thanks if you can help.

  2. #2
    Administrator Mandy's Avatar
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    Hi, Tcape, would you mind going ahead and posting the photos you said you got? Even if they are really blurry, we have a lot of experience with spiders here and can often make out what something is, despite a poor image. We'll give it a shot, at least!

    With the current description, nothing rings a bell... I figured some kind of cobweb spider in the family Theridiidae based on the large bulbous abdomen and the tiny cephalothorax, but none of them get anywhere near 5 inches in length, so couldn't be that. Actually, very, very few spiders even come close to that size...

    The skull shape is often present on the "fishing spiders" in the genus Dolomedes, but the body shape description doesn't fit them.

  3. #3
    Administrator Mandy's Avatar
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    Besides Dolomedes, also check this one out: http://bugguide.net/node/view/161941/bgimage. Anything similar to that?

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