Giant spider scares Shotover Country

by Kim Bowden - Mar 02, 2023

Shotover Country residents relax and stay put: a chunky spider found in your neighbourhood this week may look scary, but it's not nasty.

A photo of the arachnid posted to social media yesterday has given many locals the heebie-jeebies, with comments (jokingly) suggesting many were ready to pack up and leave town because of it.

But experts say the sighting isn't cause for concern.

Doctor Cor Vink, an insect expert from Lincoln University, has identified the eight-legged mini beast as a trapdoor spider, and probably a male.

He says they live in the same burrow for approximately seven years, until they come of age and head out in search of a female.

"They are quite large spiders but don’t have medically significant venom and are unlikely to bite as they are more concerned with finding females."

Female trapdoor spiders can live in the same burrow for up to 25 years, he says.

David Buckingham has given some Shotover Country residents the heebie-jeebies after sharing his arachnid find on Facebook.

The burrows are self-made and have thin lids that are often camouflaged using material from the spider's surrounds.

Once its burrow is built, a spider does not wander far.

Emeritus Professor Robert Jackson, from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury, says he's jealous of the up-close look Queenstowners have had of the spider.

He's spent a lifetime interested in spider behaviour, and says people shouldn't feel scared of encounters with spiders like these.

"Instead of horror, it is more appropriate to be excited about seeing such magnificent creatures."

Dozens are ready to leave Shotover Country on seeing David Buckingham's giant spider find on Facebook (Image: Facebook).

His colleague, "Doctor Spider" Fiona Cross, says the spider's most probably on the hunt for a partner, and that's common at this time of the year.

"I'm sure this one looks really scary to a lot of people, but there’s really nothing to worry about here."

The spider is endemic to New Zealand, and is predominantly found throughout the South Island.

It's been around for approximately 85 million years.

Main image (Facebook/Lake Hayes Estate & Shotover Country Community/David Buckingham): The male trapdoor spider spotted in Shotover Country.

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