The Clock Spider: A terror-stricken encounter with the urban legend

Have you come across a person who wishes to see a clock spider the moment they wake up. Rarely anyone would want, because trust us it’s a nerve-racking experience that everyone wants to avoid. If the thought of clock spiders doesn’t terrify you to the extent that you will be shaking the entire day – then this article is for you.

What’s the difference between clock spiders and huntsman spiders?

clock spiderfirst
source:theawesomedaily.com

People often confuse clock spiders with huntsman spiders. Well, this happens a lot because both of them are the same spiders with different names. There’s no difference – apart from how you choose to refer to them.

The clock spider is from the Sparassidae family. Such species of spiders have 8 forward-facing eyes arranged in 2 rows – each containing 4. The amazing fact about them is – they can grow insanely big in sizes.

We all are aware that whenever someone hears the name of a spider, getting scared is pretty common. No matter if you are brave or not, such creepy species manage to make you shiver. What if you have arachnophobia? If that is the case, then we recommend you to stay away from clock spiders.

Indeed, the clock spider is a wonder of nature. But prior to getting into the various facts of the spider itself, let’s delve into a peculiar urban legend associated with it.

What is the clock spider legend?

great cat
source:scienceabc.com

Urban legends vary from fictional stories to actual events that people have encountered. Nevertheless, they contain frightening stories – in which we don’t want to find ourselves. This specific urban legend being referred to here traces its origins to a meme.

clock
source:scienceabc.com

An individual crossed paths with a large huntsman or clock spider in the house of their relatives. They saw the spider right under a rather big wall clock. The spider appeared to be as big or bigger as the clock, with its creepy legs coming out. This is where it got its name from – clock spider. We just wish that the person who gave this species a new name has now forgotten this traumatic event.

Well, the legend – or maybe more of a laughable joke – is that the spider had a 9th leg. It misplaced its additional leg during a fight with a limecat (can something be more hilarious than this, plus, apologies for the bad joke!). The “legend” goes to explain how this spider turned into a god and shares a few other irrelevant details about how to worship it (we hope it’s still a joke).

Up till now, we had quite insane mumbo-jumbo, let’s just hop into the facts that are scientific about this bewitching spider. 

Facts about the Clock Spider

The Habitat

spider
source:animalcorner.org

Huntsman or clock spiders usually live underneath tree barks, rocks, and other natural compositions. In regions where humans live, such spiders can be easily seen in garages, common sheds, and areas that are not frequently used. They have an amazing vision, which helps them avoid predators and other threats from a distance, providing them apt time to hide or run away. This can be a reason that you won’t be able to spot them easily.  

Fascinatingly, prior to the huntsman’s climb to fame as the clock spider, it made its debut in some other wonderful pop culture setup – Spiderman! Of course, the spider that smartly bites Peter Parker and transforms him into a superhero is our very famous huntsman spider.

The physical appearance

physical appearance
source:scienceabc.com

As mentioned earlier, the clock spider is from the Sparassidae family which has quite large legs. In Laos, such spiders, especially the males, can have around 25-30 centimeters long legs. Clock spiders are usually misunderstood for tarantulas, but the differentiating element is that they entail angular legs and expand forward acting like a crab.

The top part of a clock spider’s body has unobtrusive brown and grey tones, while the belly area (if we can call that) of the spider is aposematically (a coloration that helps to repel or warn approaching predators) shaded white and black.

The process of matting

matting
source:scienceabc.com

The Heteropoda venatoria (specifically a male) is a species of clock spider that can be found all around the globe. Currently, it has been explored that it voluntarily produces a sound substrate-borne whenever a female of a similar species leaves behind a chemical (normally known as pheromone) to detect. Males then search the pheromones trail that females usually leave behind. Once found, they sink into the ground and strongly anchor themselves, then they just use their legs to transfer vibrations from their bodies to whichever region they are in contact with.

Much of the emitted sound is created by powerful vibrations from the stomach. Every male has its special frequency of vibrations, which assists females to differentiate amongst several males seeking their attention. The normal pattern of these vibrations includes small bursts of fierce vibrations.

In case the female is implicated in matting, she goes after the vibration to the origin where the male is looking forward to cohabiting with her. To all humans, such vibrations are mostly perceived as rhythmic ticking – similar to a clock. Nevertheless, these matting “calls” can primarily be noticed in a reasonably voiceless environment.

So in the future whenever you hear and notice the legend of the clock spider, maybe you can perceive a truthful fact rather than perceiving the myth!

Clock spider can produce venom

venom
source:scienceabc.com

Similar to many spiders, the family of Sparassidae makes use of venom to disable their prey. There are many benefits of their venom, for instance. They are used for hunting as well as defending.

Clock spiders are considered to be one of those spiders that can be dangerous to humans. These spiders can also bite humans. The fangs of many spiders are incapable of rupturing human skin, and even if they end up doing it, their venom is not powerful enough for something bigger than a little worm or beetle.

Nevertheless, not every clock spider that bite entails vicious venom for humans, even though most bites are gut-wrenching and result in inflammation because of the fangs size. There is a particular clock spider with neurologically strong venom out there – Neosparassus (found mostly in Australia).

Badge Huntsman or Neosparassus spiders start their lives as small green color creatures and transform into creepy brown species. Their bites can result in vomiting, headaches, and nausea, even though these symptoms are infrequent.

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