Up-island spider

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Up-island spider specimen UpIslandSpider-1.jpg
Up-island spider specimen

The up-island spider, also known as a hearse-house spider, is thought to be a species of unusually large wolf spider that inhabits part of Islesboro, Maine.

Wolf spider family of spiders

Wolf spiders are members of the family Lycosidae, from the Ancient Greek word "λύκος" meaning "wolf". They are robust and agile hunters with excellent eyesight. They live mostly in solitude and hunt alone, and do not spin webs. Some are opportunistic hunters pouncing upon prey as they find it or even chasing it over short distances. Some wait for passing prey in or near the mouth of a burrow.

Islesboro, Maine Town in Maine, United States

Islesboro is a town in Waldo County, Maine, United States. The population was 566 at the 2010 census. It has a summer colony accessible by ferry from Lincolnville Beach 3 miles to the west, by private boat, or by air taxi service. Home to Warren Island State Park, Islesboro includes the village of Dark Harbor.



A spider in a jar UpIslandSpider-2.jpg
A spider in a jar

The up-island spider is said to be a dark brown spider with red eyes, sharing shape and markings with wolf spiders common in the United States. Its unusual feature is its size, by some reports spanning up to 8 inches with its legs splayed out. Some specimens are reported to be large and heavy enough to create audible footsteps in a quiet room.

While capable of making strands of silk, evidently to aid mobility, the spider is not known to construct webs or nets. It hunts and pounces on prey like a wolf spider. Also, like a wolf spider, it carries its newly hatched young on its back.


The up-island spider is known to inhabit only a small range above the narrow tidal isthmus that connects the northern and southern halves of the island of Islesboro, Maine.

Isthmus Narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas

An isthmus is a narrow piece of land connecting two larger areas across an expanse of water by which they are otherwise separated. A tombolo is an isthmus that consists of a spit or bar, and a strait is the sea counterpart of an isthmus.

Islesboro residents believe that the center of the up-island spider population distribution is the area around a local church, leading to speculation that the spiders might have arrived on the island in a coffin. "Hearse house" spider is thought to be the oldest name for the spider because long ago they were found in the carriage houses where hearses were stored. There have been limited reports of sightings of these spiders down-island, but they appear to be smaller and not as common as those frequently seen up-island.

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