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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 at least 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.
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.
- Randy Purinton (August 2000). "Plate-size spiders haunt Islesboro, but not all of it". Working Waterfront / Inter-Island News. The Island Institute. p. 10.
- Alleged image of up-island spider
- Bonnie L. Mowery Oldham (1 August 2002). "Islesboro's July Fourth parade". Working Waterfront.
- Mimi Kirk (12 June 2014). "On the Maine island of Islesboro, searching for a spider she wasn't sure was real". The Washington Post.