Etymologist Piotr Naskrecki studies katydids, a type of insect related to crickets. He walks alone and at night into the depths of South American rainforests as part of his research. He walks carefully through the forest, taking pains not to disturb anyone or anything he comes across, and listens for the faint trill of the insect’s wings.
A few years ago, while studying in Guyana, Naskrecki and immersed in his ritual, Naskrecki heard a sound of heavy feet rustling nearby. As he investigated, he first thought he saw a big, hairy rodent. But it was something a lot creepier.
The South American Goliath birdeater, also known as the largest spider in the world.
Each of their eight arms can span up to nearly a foot in length, usually making them about the size of a puppy.
Their feet feature hard tips and claws that create a clicking sound while they walk around the forest.
Though their venom isn’t fatal to humans, their sharp fangs are able to crush the head of a mouse with ease and should be avoided.
These spiders also produce high pitched hissing sounds by scraping their legs together as a way of warning predators to steer clear. Naskrecki wasn’t phased a bit. His reaction when bumping into this big bug: “Oh, how cute!” Yeah, cute. Sure.
You can find more exciting stories and photographs from Naskrecki’s studies over on his blog.