While it isn't uncommon to spot a spider in British Columbia, it may alarm you to know just how many creepy-crawlies are lurking around the province.
According to the Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia, there have been a whopping 859 species of spider confirmed in B.C. What's more, the, "spider fauna of the province is estimated to be more than 1000 species."
Of course, not all arachnids pose a danger to humans. In fact, most of them don't pose any threat at all.
Vancouver Is Awesome spoke to Erinn Lisso, Outreach Coordinator, Victoria Bug Zoo, about some of the freakiest-looking spiders locals might spot around B.C.
Wolf spiders look terrifying due to their proportionately large, prominent eyes, as well as their decidedly thick arachnid physique. Roughly about the size of a quarter, they can cause quite a scare as they scuttle around.
"Wolf spiders are fast - that's part of what makes them scary to people," explains Lisso. "They move quickly around a room but they aren't harmful."
While it is actually a rather delicate-looking, beautiful spider, Black Widow venom is reportedly four times more potent than a rattlesnake’s. However, their bite produces a considerably smaller dose. With this being said, their bites, like all other venoms, will affect individuals differently. While there haven’t been any deaths reported locally, they may have an adverse affect on some people.
“For the most part, even though they have the most potent venom of any spider in B.C., they aren’t usually a dangerous to people,” describes Lisso. “They are reclusive and quite shy – they tend to avoid conflict.”
The Okanagan has the highest concentration of the tiny, black arachnids, and they tend to be found in cellars, basements, woodsheds, and other dark, hidden places. Their webs aren’t particularly artful – they are known as the “tangle-web” spider. So, if you see a really messy web, exercise caution.
"Orb weavers have big, jack-o'-lantern bodies that may freak people out," says Lisso. "But they are also harmless."
While golden orb weavers are found across Canada, they are found throughout the United States, including Alaska, as well as Hawaii. They come in a variety of species, and one of them even inspired E. B. White's famous children's story, Charlotte's Web.
When people think of tarantulas, they typically envision hairy, scary-looking creatures that are often the size of a hand. However, there are a number of tarantula-like spiders in the province that may freak out locals due to their appearance. These spiders tend to dwell in mossy areas in temperate forests or in deep burrows, and therefore it is unlikely you'll run into the critters around your home.
While many of B.C.'s arachnids are brown, grey or black, some species of crab spider are actually yellow in colour. As such, they may give passersby a shock - but their bright colour shouldn't send any alarm bells - it isn't indicative of a potent poison that will seriously harm a person.
For those looking for even freakier-looking bugs, the Victoria Bug Zoo houses roughly 50 species that include a few particularly creepy spiders.
For example, they have a Goliath bird-eating spider - a type of tarantula - that is considered the largest spider in the world. The zoo houses a female, who Lisso reports is actually quite calm. She adds that the massive spider measures around 9 inches when she's stretched out - yikes!
Lisso notes that the zoo also has a brown recluse spider, which is one of the most venomous spiders in North America. While it doesn't look particularly unique or scary, their bites sometime require medical attention.
The zoo also has a black widow, as well as a golden orb weaver. The golden orb weaver is actually a black spider that weaves a beautiful silk web that shimmers with a golden hue in the sunlight.