Me, earlier today: "Don't look now, but I think we have a new friend living in that corner..."
Paul: "Yecch. Squish it!"
For some reason, Paul doesn't like it when spiders show up in the house. Especially not big ones. And this one was really big!
I declined to squish it, but I did take the creature down with the help of a paper towel and a plastic cup (and I cleaned up those cobwebs while I was at it), and took took him/her outside.
This is a cellar spider, and I'm pretty sure its species is Pholcus phalangioides, which is apparently one of the more common cellar spiders in North America (and it occurs around the world). I'm sure I've seen these creatures in passing before -- they like to live in human homes, hence their common name -- but I've never stopped to really look at one before. And I don't think I've ever seen one this big.
For context, this is quite a big cup. I measured it just now, and the cup is 4 inches across at the lip. I think that means this spider was just about that big, too, with its gangly legs all stretched out. (I remember I had a hard time fitting the cup over it in the first place.) Would you like a closer view?
Now those are legs! I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that this spider actually moves with such wispy, insubstantial-looking appendages. What would it be like to walk around on super long and thin stilts all day?
Here's my final attempt at providing some perspective on this creature's size, although I think this picture just makes my hand look extra small:
Cellar spiders eat insects (and other spiders), and they don't hurt people, so I actually wouldn't have been too upset to have a gentle giant like this guy hanging out in the corner of our ceiling. And who knows, if they like living in houses so much, maybe we'll actually see him (or her) again soon.
Update: It's a couple hours after I made this post, and lo, we found another one of these creatures, the same size, crawling across Paul's desk. I'm pretty sure it was a different individual, because the abdomen was a little rounder than the first, and we took this one outside, too. I think I read, on one of the random websites that I was browsing when looking up cellar spiders, something about males and females living as pairs in close proximity.... Maybe these two are a couple, and they can find each other again outside?