surprise! look what i found in my towel!

Saturday morning, while packing up our gear after a couple of nights spent at Richardson Grove in the redwoods, I got a small surprise when this spider climbed out of a towel sitting on the picnic table (click on all photos for larger views). Looks like some species of Tarantula, but I don’t know which one. I knew that there were Tarantulas in California, but didn’t know there were any in the Redwoods. As you might guess, I wasn’t afraid, but actually kind of excited. I’ve only ever seen captive Tarantulas, so it was pretty cool to find one on its home turf.

On our way out of the park that day, we stopped to talk to an employee who was doing some maintenance work and told him about the Tarantula. He laughed and said, yes, there are some around, along with rattlesnakes and scorpions. He mentioned that he finds scorpions in the washrooms almost every day.

Also seen while camped at Richardson Grove was this truly spectacular Harvestman (Opiliones). It was the largest one I’ve ever seen. My friend found it wandering around over a grocery bag.

My friend also found this interesting pair — a spider and cricket perched side by side on the wall in one of the washroom. I believe the spider is probably some kind of wolf spider — we found a few like this — all quite large.

As was the case with the moths the washrooms turned out to be a great place to look for spiders. These two large orbweavers (above and below) were found hanging about on the outside of the building.

I found quite a number of these white and brown spiders suspended upside down on webs woven in the corners of the wooden fence around the washrooms. They looked a bit like the very tiny hammock spiders we see at home, only much larger. If anyone happens to know the identity of any of the above spiders, please do post a note in the comments.

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19 Responses to “surprise! look what i found in my towel!”

  1. Carolyn Hoffman Says:

    I love the tarantula! of course, I live where tarantulas aren’t, so that may be part of its appeal. Did you release it? Keep it as a pet?

    Carolyn H.

  2. Mark P Says:

    Tarantulas are cool. We don’t have them in Georgia, at least to my knowledge, but we definitely have scorpions, in and out of the house.

  3. bev Says:

    Carolyn – Shortly after I finished taking the photo, the spider moved into a crack between the boards on the picnic table where the towel had been sitting. I suspect it may have been there all along and just moved to the towel once that was on top of the table. However, I did make a little warning sign and set it on the table with an arrow pointing to where the spider was hiding, and we anchored this down with a rock. A couple of campers at the next sight who had just been sleeping on the ground without a tent came over to see the spider. They were very surprised. No doubt they’ll be checking their sleeping bags for spiders from now on!

    Mark – Yes, they are really cool. A fellow from up my way has a couple of pet spiders and they’re beautiful.

  4. beetle_doc Says:

    I may be wrong but I think the tarantula is actually a trapdoor spider.

  5. robin andrea Says:

    Excellent finds, bev! I’ve only seen a dead tarantula once right outside my office door at work. Of course, my office door faced a huge meadow right at the edge of a redwood canyon. Still even that one was thrilling. The orb-weavers are out all over this time of the year.

  6. bev Says:

    beetle doc – Thanks, beetle doc. I’m not sure about the spider. I’m not super familiar with either tarantulas or trapdoor spiders. Last autumn, my friend found a turret spider while when we were at Trinidad on the California coast. It was considerably smaller than this spider though — this one was pretty large. I did find some photos of California tarantulas that look kind of like this one, but again, I don’t know enough to be able to ID it. I understand that there are quite a lot of species of tarantula, trapdoor and turret spiders in California.

    robin – This was a real beauty of a spider and I was quite pleased to see it. I just love the articulation of the legs on these large spiders so it was great to have a chance to study one up close before it wandered off.

  7. Phantom Midge Says:

    Could they be Nordman’s Orbweavers? (I was using Spiders of the Northwoods by Larry Weber but I am thinking they may be widespread…although I do like this note from the orbweaver section: “Identification of Araneus spiders, to species, is surprisingly difficult.”

    uh, yeah!;-)

  8. Laura Says:


  9. firefly Says:

    Cool spiders, but I must say, I’m really glad Maine is too cold for tarantulas and scorpions.

    Being bitten by even a small spider can be really painful — a couple of bites around my elbow from a spider hiding in a jacket sleeve swelled up intermittently for a week afterward, and I swore I could feel inflammation inside the joint too.

    After your post on funnel webs I found one with spider on a dahlia I was growing in a container. I hope this doesn’t mean I’ll make another surprise discovery!

  10. meeyauw Says:

    just wonderful spider photos! I’ve done thousands this summer (and it’s helped my fear of spiders, too)

  11. bev Says:

    Phantom Midge – Yes, I think Nordman’s Orbweaver does have a pretty wide range. There seem to be quite a few different species of orbweavers that are similar and that also have large ranges, but I don’t know what would be most common to the redwoods. Definitely something I’ll have to check into once I have a bit more time.

    firefly – One of the things that I find most difficult about traveling is remembering to watch out for venomous spiders, snakes, scorpions, etc.. Living in eastern Canada, we really don’t have anything much in the way of creatures that can cause a serious reaction.

    meeyauw – Photographing spiders, bees, snakes, and other creatures can definitely help one to get over any fear of them.

  12. BayLee Says:

    Hey Bev,
    this does not look like a native species but more like someone released it into the wild, which is very sad.
    I have a link posted on for others to see and give suggestions on what species this might be.

    Just wanted to let you know.

    here is the link:

    Good luck and great pictures you take.


  13. ivy Says:

    Amazing pics! I love the cricket n’spider pals on the wall. I had no idea there were tarantulas in the redwoods, which is somewhere I visit often from my chilly Canadian home. Good to know, though – I’ll keep my eyes open (and towels, sleeping bags, etc. well shaken!) from now on :) Thanks!

  14. david and jake Says:

    would you eat an orb spider for $100 000?
    we would.

  15. Lulu Says:

    I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and there are a lot of different spiders here, scorpions, snakes, tarantulas are very common, here, Great pictures!

  16. greg Says:

    the one with the cricket is a dock spider they get pretty big around an inch and a half at the largest and the orb weaver is a common garden spider not sure about the yellow one

  17. bev Says:

    greg – Thanks for leaving a comment with some info about the spiders. We get “fishing spiders” (a species of Dolomedes), and I suspect that would be the equivalent of the “dock spider” which you have mentioned.

  18. carpathia Says:

    It’s an Eastern Tarantula. ^-^ Wonderful animals.

  19. yurok native Says:

    the big spider you found in the towel is a Redwood Spider.. my cousin told me about the giant spiders that look like “Tarantulas” i didnt believe him until he took me on a drive through the redwoods at night and man they were all over the road and they jump about a foot high off the ground they get as big a grown mans fist really really creepy.. ive been tryin to look them up on the net but i havent really found anything on them. but i am A YUROK Native American and my family tells me about giant redwood spiders deep in the redwoods way bigger than the one posted in the picture above big enuf to kill birds!!! if you dont belive what im sayin come to crescent city california and drive through stout grove at about midnight or later and you can see them crawling and JUMPING!! all over the road….

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