'That doesn't look like a normal spider': Relative of tarantula spotted in Langford

Krysten Leigh didn’t think the spider she spotted while walking her dog in Langford was real — at first.

Leigh shared a post of her recent encounter on Facebook, including a photo of the arachnid, which she said didn’t look like a typical Greater Victoria spider.

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“I was walking my dog in the morning and he was pulling on the leash really trying to get to something, and when I looked over I actually had to look twice because I thought it was fake,” Leigh said.

“I was so surprised because usually when you see a spider with a big body the legs are kind of thin, but with this one the whole thing was thick.

“And when I saw the stripes I thought, ‘Ohh, that doesn’t look like a normal spider!’ ”

After showing the picture to her mother, Leigh contacted a pest control company to ensure the arachnid wasn’t dangerous. She was told that it was a type of trapdoor spider that isn’t dangerous and spends most of its life underground.

Claudia Copley, Royal B.C. Museum entomology collections manager, said the spider is a “very cool” female Pacific folding door spider.

And while they aren’t seen regularly, she said the spiders are not rare — they are just lying low.

“Females do not often leave their burrow so they are not often seen even though this genus of spiders is known to be quite long-lived,” Copley said. The spider is a tarantuloid — a relative of tarantulas — and can live up to 20 years.

Sightings of the spiders are more common during the fall, when males leave their burrows in search of mates, she said.

The species ranges farther north on the B.C. coast and into the United States, and has been found on Haida Gwaii and in the gardens at the museum in Victoria, she said. There are also three related species in the B.C. Interior.

As for their size, Copley said these particular arachnids are not huge, measuring about five centimetres across.

And, she said, “they are definitely not dangerous.”

— With a file from the Times Colonist

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