Giant Spider Found in Manchester?

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As shared on Facebook, March 6, 2013:

Spider in Manchester
Netlore Archive: Viral image purports to show a huge, long-legged spider lurking in the corner of a house in Manchester, England. Viral image via Facebook.com

Description: Viral image
Circulating since: 2011?
Status: Mislabeled (see details below)

Full text:
As originally posted on Facebook, Aug. 22, 2011:

THIS was actually found this morning in a house in Manchester, , Fire Brigade were apparently shit scared and handed it over to a spider specialist. Family fled screaming from their home, , think Id do same its like something from a horror movie...


Analysis: Presumably genuine (it doesn't appear to have been altered), the above pic first started showing up in Internet postings in April 2011, with the critter variously described as 1) a "banana spider," 2) a "camel spider," 3) a "huntsman spider terrorizing the staff at an office in Greensboro, Georgia," and 4) a spider of unknown type "found this morning in a house in Manchester," etc.

Of all the above, it is most likely a huntsman spider (Heteropoda venatoria), alternatively known as a banana spider, housekeeping spider, or giant crab spider. I haven't been able to verify the geographical origin of the photo, but it could have been taken in the state of Georgia or elsewhere in the southeastern United States. The same species is also found in Asia (where it is native), Australia, Hawaii, and the Caribbean islands, so the photo might have been taken in one of those locations as well.

One place the huntsman spider isn't likely to be found, however, is Manchester — or anywhere else in England or Europe, for that matter — so, unless all the reference books are wrong, that claim is blatantly false.

Big and scary as it looks — it's often mistaken for the dreaded brown recluse spider — experts say Heteropoda venatoria is neither poisonous nor dangerous, though its bite can be "locally painful." The consensus among arachnologists is that they rarely bite humans in the first place.

Update: It has also been pointed out in various Internet discussions that the specimen pictured is specifically a huntsman spider (Heteropoda maxima), native to Laos, with a legspan of up to 12 inches and said by some to be the largest of any known arachnid species. Not much is known about the giant huntsman, since it was only recently discovered (in 2001),

Spider lore:
The Spider in the Oreo
Spider as Big as a House!
The 'Deadly' Two-Striped Telamonia
Camel Spiders in Iraq
A Brown Recluse Spider Bite

Sources and further reading:

Huntsman Spider: Heteropoda venatoria
Institute for the Study of Invasive Species, 2011

Huntsman Spider: Heteropoda venatoria
Florida Nature, 2007

Giant Huntsman Spider: Heteropoda maxima
Animal A Day, 26 February 2011

Last updated 08/15/15