That is, a handler of dangerous spiders. I am not afraid of spiders, at all. That's a black widow and a brown recluse on my bare hand. Source video here

Proof: :foorP

Edit: I have never knowingly eaten spiders.

Edit: Reddit was just down in my district, so give me a minute to catch up. (845am Pacific)

Edit: The water in the video is to keep the spiders from running up my arm. The first take was a disaster.

Edit: The spiders are dangerous, not the handler.

Edit: I have lots of favorites, but the brown huntsman is a standout. It's big, it's scary, but it eats pests and you can pick it up without the spider freaking out.

Edit: If anybody knows those magical beings called Producers, I would make awesome spider TV for everyone! I just need the hookup.

Edit: To try to overcome your arachnophobia, start trapping spiders and observing them. Take pictures of them and post them to /r/spiders - learn to recognize different species, learn to recognize different spider parts, like the pedipalps and the spinnerets. Knowledge will help ablate your terror.

Edit: I am still answering questions but I have a 9-month-old and she needs some love too. So please be patient!

I pick up every spider I find. I have handled hundreds of species from North America, Costa Rica, and Indonesia. I used to smash about thirty a day between my bare hands in Costa Rica, where I worked at a butterfly garden. I was never bitten. I don't normally kill spiders, because I am convinced they are falsely implicated in almost every instance of reported bites.

I am also a spider bite tester but so far I haven't gotten enfanged. I know it's a hassle to sit through the ads on my videos, but it helps pay for expeditions. If you can endure another ad, here's a spider heartbeat from a forest of cacao trees in Indonesia.

I have been called a "spider lawyer" at public presentations, for asking these questions: Has anyone in this room ever actually seen a spider biting a person? Why is there no single picture on the internet of a spider actually doing the biting?

I moderate at /r/spiders and shout out the glory of my hardworking comrades. Next time you freak out about a spider, don't kill it, even if it's in your house. Put a glass over it, slide a postcard underneath, and take a picture of it. Then post it at /r/spiders and you'll probably find out it's a harmless pest-eater. If it is something dangerous, we will give you sensible advice.

I am fascinated by spider anatomy and often dissect and photograph them. Here is the calamistrum, a special silk-comb. Here is the claw.jpg) at the end of a spider's leg. This is the male copulatory organ, and this is the female. I made an informative video about spider ladyparts.

I am addressing the issue of dangerous spiders to the Department of Health as part of a Zoonotic Disease Workshop. Medical doctors and veterinarians are among the leading propagators of anti-spider disinformation. They often attribute any lesion or necrosis to a "spider bite" even if no spider is reported. I'm going to tell those doctors what's up.

Let me anticipate some of your questions or statements:

"I don't hate spiders but I am terrified of them." My response: you're not alone. Many people identify themselves as arachnophobes, and harbor unreasonable fear and disgust for spiders. The most helpful thing you can do for yourself is trap a spider in a jar and just look at it. You'll see it is a small animal afraid for its life, not a bloodthirsty killer. Learn to identify which parts are the pedipalps. Once you're looking close enough to see them, your spider paranoia will begin to evaporate.

"I don't care what they do outside, but if they come into my house, it's game over." Why? You're 10000x the spider's size and you have a giant brain. Be the conscious being in charge of the situation, calm down, and don't kill the spiderbro. Roaches and mosquitoes throw a party when you squash a spider.

Comments: 3712 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

Unidan1566 karma

What's your thoughts about the function of stabilimenta?

EDIT: On a fun side note, since you were in the tropics, how often did you get tangled in an orb weaver web? They were the bane of my hikes in Costa Rica.

quaoarpower787 karma

Great question. I don't have any science answer, but my own personal observation is that it seems to break up the silhouette of the spider on the web, and may addle the "search-image" of birds and lizards.

vernes19781137 karma

What is so dangerous about you?

quaoarpower1428 karma

I'm a danger to insects and spiders because I catch them, put them in alcohol, and dissect their genitalia

Ganahim993 karma

I once farted on a spider as a kid. Do you think i made it sad?

quaoarpower1437 karma

Depends on what you ate beforehand. Cashew farts never fail to cheer me up.

Ash-Frakkin-Vegas977 karma

What traumatic event in your childhood drove you to pursuing a career in these demon spawn insects?

quaoarpower939 karma

Grew up in rural Colorado mountains, spent most of my childhood outdoors. Love the natural world.

Rawrgoesthepenguin822 karma

As someone with a phobia of spiders... Why am I here ?!

quaoarpower792 karma

Maybe you're curious about other possibilities!

pakman5391654 karma

If you walk through a spider web, do you freak out like the rest of us, or is it just another day at the office for you.

quaoarpower922 karma

Just another day at the office. In the tropics I usually carry a stick out in front of me so I don't walk into golden orbweaver webs.

Spookityspookfish495 karma

Ok, why Golden Orbweaver in particular? Are there just more of them around? Are they more dependent on their web? A more delicate species?

quaoarpower857 karma

No, their web is huge and strong, and they often build webs across paths. It's a tough one to disentangle yourself from.

Meeperer459 karma

Are orbweavers really big and dangerous?

quaoarpower957 karma

Totally harmless, but very large.

stradtown575 karma

How would you respond to being bitten by a brown recluse?

quaoarpower1020 karma

Cold compress and trip to the doctor.

YELLIO497 karma

Are you a super villain in the making? And have you ever eaten a spider?

quaoarpower679 karma

What's this "in the making" business? ;)

I haven't knowingly eaten any spiders, but I ate a scorpion in Thailand. It was awful.

attilad359 karma

For you or the scorpion?

quaoarpower1210 karma

Neither of us came away better for the experience.

MrSnider32496 karma

You're not one of those "I'll get bit till I'm immune" people are you? Do you know people like that?

Edit: there ya go.

quaoarpower715 karma

Sure, I know them. I personally don't have a reaction to mosquito bites anymore, after so many tens of thousands.

SharkRancher487 karma

Which spider would you rather be bitten by?

quaoarpower636 karma

Probably one of these. This is a running crab spider, Apollophanes margareta. There's nothing particularly amazing about their bite, but they are just such cool spiders to watch.

KillMeAndYouDie174 karma

What about least like to get bitten by?

quaoarpower308 karma

This one. I'm no Steve Irwin.

JackassJake427 karma

What's your most interesting spider fact that people probably won't already know?

quaoarpower746 karma

Wow, there are so many. One of my favorites is that spiders often have an internal skeleton. It is a cartilaginous frame inside the body that anchors muscles.

Im_a_TARDIS_AMA294 karma

Wait what

I was always taught they were exoskeletal!

quaoarpower424 karma

Not exclusively!

jammie_jammie_jammie411 karma

People say that big spiders like the Goliath Bird Eating Spiders which are non-venomous are usually more docile (i.e they will not attack unless provoked).

Is the same true for highly venomous ones like Black Widow or Australian Black Funnel Web ??

Myself a spider enthusiast !!!

quaoarpower576 karma

With some exceptions, larger spiders tend to be more docile, because they are often mechanically defended (irritating hairs.) Black widows are usually completely chill because they are sit-and-wait predators and have no reason for aggression outside of their little cobweb. The Australian Funnel Web spiders can be aggressive, especially the males, but this is true of a lot of species.

Meowmaddie266 karma

What is your view on the White Tail spider and belief that they cause necrotic wounds?

quaoarpower349 karma

That's a ball I wish my co-mod at /r/spiders would field - she's got more of the available literature at her fingertips. But here's some conclusions from a peer-reviewed study:

"Results: In two patients that were inpatients in other ­hospitals, investigation and follow up was not possible. In both cases there was no history of spider bite and Staphylococcus aureus was cultured. In nine patients, a diagnosis other than spider bite was made following appropriate investigation and follow up, including: (i) two cases of dermatophytoses, (ii) three staphylo­coccal infections, (iii) one case of pyoderma gangrenosum, (iv) one case of cutaneous polyarteritis nodosa, (v) one case of Nocardia braziliensis and (vi) one infected diabetic ulcer. There was only one case where the person recalled seeing a spider bite them, but the patient did not collect the spider for identification. The median time to diagnosis was 3 weeks (interquartile range: 3−9 weeks) and 3.5 years in one case. Appropriate treatment was initiated once the correct diagnosis was made and all cases resolved.

Conclusions:  In this series, all cases initially referred as WT spider bites or necrotic arachnidism were found to have alternative diagnoses with appropriate investig­ations. This demonstrates that spider bites are an unlikely cause of necrotic ulcers and that all ulcers should be properly investigated with bacterial, fungal and mycobacterial cultures and skin biopsy for histo­pathology. (Intern Med J 2004; 34: 38−44)"

tl;dr they probably don't cause necrotic wounds.

Ganahim263 karma

How big of a danger would a free tarantula in my house be?

quaoarpower471 karma

No danger to you or your pets (unless you have pet crickets or pet baby mice) - but there is a high danger of the tarantula escaping into some crevice that you will never find.

Bluefoz238 karma

What is your favourite spider and why? And how and when did your fascination of spiders evolve into full-fledged career?

I love how you treat spiders. I live in Scandinavia so I've never encountered a spider that could hurt me in any way, so I always just leave the poor little buggers in my house when I see them take a stroll across the floor. My roommate is terrified of them though, so I always make a habit of carrying the larger ones outside, setting them free.

Edit: Fun fact, a small spider once woke me up by crawling up between my eyes. Not nearly as terrifying as I would've imagined.

quaoarpower611 karma

It's not a career, sadly. My real job is dissecting moth dicks.

I got completely fascinated by spiders about 5 years ago when I found out how little is actually known about them.

DoubleZer0211 karma

Most of the spiders where I'm from (Central Iowa) are small, blandly colored, and able to be found in your house during winter. However, when spring rolls around, we are able to find "garden spiders." HUGE yellow fellas with black patches on their backs. Why are they so different in size from other spiders of the region? Where do they go in the winter?!

quaoarpower223 karma

I'm going to guess that you mean something like this? I can't usually ID spiders without a picture. But the answer is, they usually overwinter as juveniles in crevices and warm areas, and since they are cold-blooded, their metabolism slows way down.

endivebreakfast192 karma

Hey- I'm a subscriber to your youtube channel, I'm a huge fan. I think you deserve to get your own cable show, you are definitely one of the best and most interesting hosts I've ever seen, and your passion for nature is infectious.

spider related: have you ever handled extremely large spiders, like a goliath spider?

non-spider related: What are you next world travel destinations? Have you ever been approached by TV producers to do a show?

BTW, for any redditors interested, this is his channel:

I've watched it for hours on end.

quaoarpower145 karma

Thanks! I would love to do a cable show. I just need to meet one of those magical beings called a "producer."

I've handled some pretty big tarantulas but nothing goliathy. My top travel destinations right now are Halmahera and Cairns.

SpiralDimentia186 karma

In that first video, why is your hand mostly submerged in water? To keep the spiders from fleeing or something?

quaoarpower405 karma

To keep them from running up my arm and into my shirt. That was like take 4 or something. Take 1 is a scary disaster.

skivariv181 karma

how do you feel about this?

quaoarpower827 karma

A double opportunity to examine female genitalia, maybe.

malone_m161 karma

Which spider has the most potential to evolve and become the world's dominant species ( Which one is the most intelligent, in other terms)?

quaoarpower291 karma

Jumping spiders. Big eyes, big brains. Just like us, just like cuttlefish.

cuporphyry137 karma

I live in the southwest US. Last year I killed 11 black widows in my backyard on one night, mainly around the edges of my house. Any way to keep these black widows away without insecticides?

quaoarpower173 karma

You could try to convince the thread legged assassin bugs to come around - they eat spiders. Otherwise, mechanical solutions (sweeping them down) are the only ones I can suggest.

RonnyPLusk130 karma

What's the most dangerous spider you've handled

quaoarpower214 karma

Black widow and brown recluse.

Hristix94 karma


Last fall I was sitting here at my desk typing away. It was late. Like 3am, maybe 4am. I think I was writing. I see a black little flash with a hint'o'red go across my desk. "God damn it. It's a black widow." I know it was. I've seen them before and they're in this area anyway. It ran into my desk 'tower' where all the CD's and shelves are. I couldn't just sit there and let it come out and bite me, so I donned some gloves and looked for it. Never did find it. Took all that shit out of there. It was gone.

Hour later I'm sitting there typing away. It runs across my desk again and sinks its fangs into my hand. I suspect I moved my hand when it was running across them and it just bit. Wasn't horribly painful, but it left marks. Besides its innards strewn across my desk.

But nothing happened. Maybe a little 'tense' wondering if I was going to feel it or anything, but I didn't have anything. Are those known for dry bites?

quaoarpower234 karma

This is hard for me to fathom. It doesn't match up with any normal spider behavior. Why would a spider attack something 10000x its own size? Spiders are shy, soft-bodied animals with very little natural defense.

Also, there's no way a black widow would "run" anywhere. They are web spiders. So I think you either mistook something else for a spider, or misidentified the spider.

Messiah_7988 karma

When John Goodman stepped on the spider in the movie "Arachnophobia" did you think his death was well deserved?

quaoarpower101 karma

Oh, probably. I saw it when it was in the theatres and don't really remember.

mpstmvox85 karma

Can/do the more "dangerous" (Black widows, brown recluses) spiders live in northern states like Minnesota?

quaoarpower191 karma

Nope, Minnesota is free of dangerous spiders.

BJene84 karma

Do you have a theory of what're causing the bites if not spiders?

quaoarpower150 karma

Sure, lots of things can cause itchy red bumps or lesions. MRSA is a common culprit, but even the simple act of leaning against a screen door or a thornbush can puncture your epidermis and drive bacteria down to where they cause a minor infection. This presents as an itchy bump, usually overnight. There are also a great many small insects that have piercing/sucking mouthparts, who will happily take a sample of sleeping person to see if you are edible.

redspart72 karma

When I was younger I would play with spider, they were amazing! Would watch them as they shed, amazing stuff, then would let them craw on me. Something changed I guess; I am terrified of them now. Mostly cockroaches, I know they are different. Well I guess I am leading up to a spider question.

What is the first thing you should do when you get bit? Is it weird to be fine seeing spiders that are large, in the legs/thick, and enjoying those rather than the tiny spiders with the thin long legs?

quaoarpower142 karma

Verify that a spider was actually doing the biting, capture it (alive or dead) so you can show it to a professional, then cold compress. But it happens so seldom that there's not a well-set procedure in place. It's like asking what to do if you get pecked by a condor.

SamMayu70 karma

I did and still do have pretty bad arachnophobia, ever since I was little. I've transitioned from kill on sight to respectfully catching and releasing outside any spider I find. My phobia makes me extremely interested in spider handling, believe it or not. How does one get started in this kind of Hobbie while still being safe?

quaoarpower113 karma

There's only 2 species in the US that are of any concern. Teach yourself to recognize those 2, and don't pick them up. All the others are completely harmless unless you squish them into your eye or harass them unreasonably.

SirDarthVader67 karma

Is your favorite superhero Spiderman?

quaoarpower106 karma

Nope, Väinämöinen.

Hedgehogs4Me64 karma

Do you get paid for it, or is it just a hobby? If the former, how would one go about getting a job like yours?

quaoarpower122 karma

I get YouTube revenues, and sometimes I get paid to ID spiders that people bring in to work. But otherwise it's just a hobby.

Ganahim62 karma

Have you eaten spiders? I seem to recall that in some countries they fry tarantula legs and eat them like chips.

quaoarpower95 karma

Never knowingly! I would try them though

CompletelyShredded55 karma

Is that whole you eat spiders in your sleep thing true?

quaoarpower150 karma

Spiders are soft-bodied animals with no chemical defense. Being eaten is the main way they die.

Dommytime31 karma

What's the most painful spider bite you've had? Also, how often do you get bit in that line of work?

quaoarpower90 karma

I've never been bitten! I must have handled at least 5000 spiders by now.

ryangmode30 karma

Are there more aggresive spiders than others and if so, what types are most aggresive?

quaoarpower57 karma

The male Wandering Spiders can be pretty aggressive, as well as the corklid trapdoor spider

There's also some kind of trade tarantula that people freak out about as being aggressive (purple-ass baboon tarantula or something) but I haven't tried my magic on one of those yet.

snap_wilson28 karma

What makes you dangerous?

quaoarpower44 karma

I squash spiders with my bare hands, and also catch them and put them in jars of alcohol. Spiders better watch out around me.

PoorGirlEatingClassy24 karma

What are your thoughts on the possibility of spiders making homes in new climates? For example, there was a spider living under my doormat in Cape Cod, Ma that I could have sworn was a giant brown recluse. However, many have told me that it is impossible for them to live here. Do you think the spiders can acclimate to their environment enough to start a life in new climates? edit: wording.

quaoarpower39 karma

Individuals probably can, but populations don't usually get going elsewhere because they are outcompeted by spiders that are already there. Northern Hemisphere spiders are badasses - think of the privations of the seasons, for example - so it's harder for other species to find a niche. Similarly, Northern spiders don't do well in warm places because there is likewise a lot of competition.

Next time you see a spider you don't like the look of, take a picture and post it on /r/spiders - we will ID it for you!

speedofdark820 karma

How do you feel about spiders as pets? Specifically tarantulas, since those are more common

I've held a pet rose hair tarantula in my hand (which was awesome, it was quite fuzzy walking on my forearm) and it was completely chill. It was a pet in a classroom, and we were only allowed to handle it an hour after it was fed. Loved that class. Sorry for the random tangent/story, but I though doing this at a young age (I was in 5th grade) helped a lot of students in the class rid themselves partially of arachnophobia.

quaoarpower32 karma

I think spiders make excellent pets. Many species are well-suited to captivity and breed readily. As long as they're not being heavily harvested from the wild, I think it's great.

ou77-am06 karma

What's your stance on other insects, like cockroaches, beatles, etc.?

quaoarpower8 karma

Many of them are big, big problems for people - moths especially are HUGE competition for nearly every food we eat. But as a subject of study, I am totally fascinated.

boastful_cunt_monk5 karma

What is one of the most poisonous spider you have held?

quaoarpower3 karma

Black widow and brown recluse. I've held wandering spiders as well but not sure about how venomous that species was.