This is a blog about spiders (and other arachnids), ghost spiders (anyphaenidae).
Recently, Sean found a lovely pale spider in his mother’s garden in Victoria. Neither of us recognized it, and after a bit of research, I was able to identify it as a member of the family Anyphaenidae . Spiders in this family are called ghost spiders, and this is the first one I have ever encountered. She is now living in a petri dish on our bookshelf, and has made herself a cozy silk retreat inside a curled leaf.
Anyphaena aperta female (missing her left front leg) photo: Sean McCann
Not much is known about the natural history of these secretive spiders. Apparently they are generally nocturnal hunters that spend their days in their silken retreats. Apart from building these “sleep sacs” under leaves or rocks (and of course spinning egg sacs), ghost spiders don’t have much use for silk.
Anyphaena accentuata in her silken retreat under a leaf. Photo: Ferran Turmo Gort (licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )
Ghost spider body forms and lifestyles are similar to those of the sac spiders (family Clubionidae), and in fact they used to be considered clubionids. They also have some similarities to ground spiders in the family Gnaphosidae. Members of all three families are wanderers with prominent spinnerets. Luckily for me and others without regular access to a microscope, there are some fairly obvious characteristics that help distinguish Anyphaenidae from other spider families.
Less reliable, but easier to see, is the eye arrangement .
Ground spiders in the family Gnaphosidae often have some oval eyes , whereas anyphaenids’ eyes are all round.
A ground spider in the genus Zelotes (Gnaphsosidae) with her lovely pink egg sac. Note the barrel-shaped spinnerets. I know you can’t really see her eyes – click the link above for a drawing. Photo: Sean McCann
And unlike many sac spiders in the family Clubionidae, the anterior median eyes (AME; the central pair closest to the front of the head) are usually smaller than the other eyes.
Sac spider with relatively large anterior median eyes. Photo: Sean McCann
Anyphaena eye arrangement. The anterior median eyes (central pair in the front row) are smallest. Photo: Dann Thombs (licensed under CC BY-ND-NC 1.0 )
Dorsal view of eye arrangement of an Anyphaena male. Photo: Kyron Basu (licensed under CC BY-ND-NC 1.0 )
The real giveaway characteristic of anyphaenids, however, is the tracheal spiracle (one of the openings of the respiratory system in spiders). To get a good look at this, it’s useful to have a Spi-Pot . In other similar-looking spiders the tracheal opening is located close to the spinnerets. In ghost spiders, it is closer to the centre of the abdomen.
Ventral view of a male Anyphaena aperta . Photo: Ken Schnieder (licensed under CC BY-ND-NC 1.0 )
The horizontal groove on the underside of this spider’s abdomen (across the darker patch in the middle) is the tracheal spiracle.
Although not much to look at from the outside, the tracheal system of the anyphaenids may provide us with some clues about their natural history. Internally, the tracheae of ghost spiders are much wider than those of sac spiders. This may be because they have a more active lifestyle than sac spiders; they are certainly very fast runners. Males have even larger tracheae than females, which Platnick ( 1974 ) concluded is likely related to their extremely vigorous courtship displays. During courtship, Anyphaena accentuata males vibrate their abdomens up and down so quickly that it becomes a blur. In contrast, sac spider courtship has been described as “sluggish”.
The ghost spiders could certainly use more study, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for them from now on!
Anyphaena aperta again. Photo: Sean McCann
Dondale, C. D., & Redner, J. H. (1982). The insects and arachnids of Canada. Part 9. The sac spiders of Canada and Alaska. Araneae: Clubionidae and Anyphaenidae (No. 1724). link
Platnick, N. (1974). The spider family Anyphaenidae in America north of Mexico. Bull Mus Comp Zool Harvard Univ . 146: 205-266. link
7 thoughts on “ ghost spiders (anyphaenidae) ”.
Thanks for sharing!
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Hi, I found a black, non-hairy spider about a cm in size in my bath! Not sure if it came from the woods where I had been or perhaps hanging out in the washcloth in the shower.
Unfortuntely it died sometime after I flung it out of the tub in a panick! Then my husband threw away the tissue that I saved it in. It was pure black except when I looked at it closely there was a very small orange dot on each the rear pair of legs (no other markings), I think the inner part of the part nearest the body. At a glance its body looked a little like a black ant.
Can you help identify or steer me to a good free online source to identify? Thanks!!
What is the geographic location?
northern New Jersey
Really hard to say without a photo. Perhaps an antmimic spider in genus Castianeira? (Here’s a gallery: https://bugguide.net/node/view/2000/bgimage )
Great article- thanks! I just found one of these (I think, based on inaturalist) and ut was cool to read some info about them!
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Overview of Spider Species in the United States
Hibana – Ghost Spider
Hibana are a genus of spiders commonly referred to as ghost spiders. They are common throughout South and Central America, including the Caribbean Islands. In North America, they are mostly found along the East Coast as well as in the Southern United States from coast to coast.
Ghost spiders are part of the sac spider family Anyphaenidae. They are nocturnal hunter spiders and usually spend their daytime hidden and protected within a layer of silk – a sac. Their common name ‘ghost spiders’ comes from the fact that they are often observed behind the semi transparent silk of their silken daytime retreats.
Quick Overview: Hibana – Ghost Spider Medically significant : No Body size: Up to 0.5 in. (13 mm) Main colors : Yellow, Brown Range : United States, Brazil, and West Indies Web : No web, hides in silken retreat during the day
Hibana Spider Description
Ghost spiders can have a very similar appearance to other ghost spiders at first sight. They are small to medium sized spiders with a body size of no more than 0.5 inches (13 mm). Their cephalothorax (head area) and the front legs are usually reddish-brown. The abdomen and the hind legs are a lighter tan color, often with small hairs.
Their best identification feature are the darker patterns on the abdomen. Often, they have two rows of darker brown or black spots along the sides of the abdomen.
Lighter-colored individuals are easily confused with yellow sac spiders (Cheiracanthium sp.) . Darker colores species can look very similar to leaf-curling sac spiders of the genus Clubiona . The presence of dark spots on the abdomen is usually the best way to identify ghost spiders.
Ghost spiders rarely reach a body length of 0.5 inches (13 mm).
Hibana spiders are active hunters and do not spin webs to catch prey. They usually roam around the ground at night, searching for insects, bugs and other spiders as prey. During the daytime, they usually retreat into a quite corner, often in homes, and spin a small silken retreat where they are protected from predators while they rest.
Hibana Spider bite
A bite of a ghost spider is generally not dangerous to humans or larger pets. Symptoms of a bite can be comparable to a bee sting.
Hibana Scientific Classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Chelicerata
- Class: Arachnida
- Order: Araneae
- Infraorder: Araneomorphae
- Family: Anyphaenidae
- Genus: Hibana
In North America, there are seven species of Hibana ghost spiders. The most common species are Hibana incursa, found in the eastern United States and Hibana gracilis, found in California and the Southern United States.
Distribution of the Hibana spider in the USA
Various species of the Hibana spider can be found throughout eastern and southern United States – Alabama , Arizona , Arkansas , California , Connecticut , Delaware , Florida , Georgia , Illinois , Indiana , Kansas , Kentucky , Louisiana , Maryland , Massachusetts , Michigan , Minnesota , Mississippi , Missouri , Nebraska , Nevada , New Hampshire , New Jersey , New Mexico , New York , North Carolina , Ohio , Oklahoma , Pennsylvania , Rhode Island , South Carolina , Tennessee , Texas , Virginia , West Virginia and Wisconsin .
Here are some photos of ghost spiders uploaded by our readers:
8 thoughts on “ Hibana – Ghost Spider ”
Found behind my gas tank cover
In my car door. Silk nest in the rubber. SE florida
Found in my garage door opener. Identified Hibana on this site.
Found in toddler’s bathroom next to the light switch.
Was getting ready to take a drink of my Mocha Loca drink, and lip hit this.
Found in Detroit, MI.
Hi Trace, this is Hibana gracilis, a ghost spider: https://usaspiders.com/hibana-ghost-spider/
I have two circular rashes on my upper arm that I might have gotten from this spider. They grew to two inches in diameter. I developed a fever of 101.7 and I am now taking a 10 day regimen of antibiotics.
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Anyphaenidae (Ghost Spiders)
The spider family Anyphaenidae, commonly known as Ghost Spiders, have been sighted 120 times by contributing members. Based on collected data, the geographic range for Anyphaenidae includes 6 countries and 23 states in the United States. Anyphaenidae is most often sighted indoors , and during the month of May .
- Pictures (6)
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Arachnida
- Order: Araneae
- Suborder: Araneomorphae
- Family: Anyphaenidae
Common Name (AAS )
Other Common Names
Anyphaenid Sac Spiders
There have been 120 confirmed sightings of Anyphaenidae (Ghost Spiders), with the most recent sighting submitted on April 13, 2020 by Spider ID member lory . The detailed statistics below may not utilize the complete dataset of 120 sightings because of certain Anyphaenidae sightings reporting incomplete data.
- Web: 9% of the time, Anyphaenidae spiders are sighted in a spider web (Sample size: 120)
- Sex: 4 female and 38 male.
- Environment: Anyphaenidae has been sighted 48 times outdoors, and 75 times indoors.
- Outdoors: Man-made structure (38). Low foliage (1). High foliage (5). Ground layer (2). Forest (2).
Location and Range
Anyphaenidae (Ghost Spiders) has been sighted in the following countries: Canada, Estonia, Mexico, Norway, United Kingdom, United States.
Anyphaenidae has also been sighted in the following states: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia.
Anyphaenidae has been primarily sighted during the month of May.
- February: 11
- September: 3
- November: 1
- December: 3
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Conservation • Description • Habitat • Biology • Distribution • Taxonomy
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The hard, upper (dorsal), shell-like covering (exoskeleton) of the body or at least the thorax of many arthropods and of turtles and tortoises. On crustaceans, it covers the cephalothorax. On spiders, the top of the cephalothorax made from a series of fused sclerites.
The front part of the body of various arthropods, composed of the head region and the thoracic area fused together. Eyes, legs, and antennae are attached to this part.
The pair of stout mouthparts, corresponding to jaws, in arachnids and other arthropods in the subphylum Chelicerata.
A stiff, hair-like process on the outer surface of an organism. In Lepidoptera: A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like outgrowth used to sense touch. In mosses: The stalk supporting a spore-bearing capsule and supplying it with nutrients. Plural: setae.
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Gwendolyn "Gwen" Maxine Stacy Ghost-Spider
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Ghost-Spider Is Bigger Than Ever, But We've Gotta Stop Calling Her Spider-Gwen
Who is "Ghost-Spider," you ask? It's her. The hottest Spider-hero right now, with the possible exception of "Spider-Verse" main character Miles Morales (Shameik Moore). In a movie series full of breakout characters, the Earth-65 Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) stands head and shoulders above her peers. In "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse," she proves once and for all that she rocks the best possible versions of all classic Spidey traits and still finds a way to give them her own, fresh spin. Wisecracking? She can do it with the best of them. Amazing costume? One of the greatest and most distinctive in the entire Spider-Verse, no less. Tragic backstory? You bet, to the point that the person she lost in her universe is none other than Peter Parker. Oh, and she can even play the drums.
Basically, Gwen is awesome, and it's time we start using her equally awesome codename, Ghost-Spider.
Yes, the movies call her Spider-Woman, which is fine, but the comics Gwen has been calling herself Ghost-Spider for years now. The real problem, though, is fandom's overwhelming insistance on referring to her by the name "Spider-Gwen," and it's something we've got to stop doing. Please. Seriously. Yes, we know that calling her Spider-Gwen is ... well, a whole thing. However, that's not what she calls herself in-universe: it's just something fans and Marvel use as a shorthand for the character on this side of the Fourth Wall.
Spider-Gwen is never going to be her actual codename, for obvious reasons (it's as dumb as if we had "Spider-Peter" or "Spider-Miles" or "Iron Tony"), and when you also consider what a better character Ghost-Spider is than the original Gwen Stacy, it becomes clear that it's time to toss this overused nickname into the garbage can.
Yes, Ghost-Spider is the official name (though it took the comics some time to get there)
As Wolverine's goofy debut costume (complete with the whisker outlines) in 1974's "Incredible Hulk" #180 will readily prove, some superheroes have to go through a few changes before getting things right. Gwen is no exception. While she arrived as a visually complete package, Marvel has taken a good long while to figure out the character's superhero identity.
When Gwen debuted in 2014, her official superhero name was Spider-Woman, just like in the "Spider-Verse" movies. However, there are lots of Spider-Women out there, and there had to be a way to set her apart from Jessica Drew, Julia Carpenter, Mattie Franklin, and the rest of the gang. The "Spider-Gwen" nickname proved so popular that in 2015, it became the title of her solo comic book series. And with a title like that, it doesn't really matter what the character is actually called, because of course the nickname is going to stick.
As such, fans aren't technically wrong to call the character Spider-Gwen, at least as long as Marvel continues to use this nickname on the cover of her own comics, as is currently happening with "Spider-Gwen: Shadow Clones." Whether said nickname is justified, though, is an entirely different matter. Gwen is one of the edgier and more conflicted Spider-heroes out there, so referring to her with a cutesy made-up name instead of her own preferred codename is just plain weird, especially since we don't do that with other prominent superheroes. Calling her Spider-Gwen instead of Ghost-Spider minimizes her importance.
The comics leaning harder into the name Ghost-Spider hopefully signifies that they're trying to phase out "Spider-Gwen," but as long as fandom continues using that name, Marvel is unlikely to drop it entirely.
Ghost-Spider is so much better than the boring original Gwen Stacy
Another reason the name Spider-Gwen shouldn't be used anymore is simple: The less this Gwen Stacy reminds people of the original one, the better.
When you lower the rose-colored glasses, there's a reason the fiery, independent Mary Jane Watson so quickly replaced Gwen as Peter Parker's ultimate love interest in the comics, and it has nothing to do with the Green Goblin. "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" is one of the most pivotal Marvel story arcs out there, but as a character, the original Gwen is pretty boring. She's a blank romantic interest with a Daisy Duck-style penchant for juggling suitors, created at a stage of Spider-Man history where most supporting characters were just beginning to evolve beyond one-dimensional archetypes.
Ghost-Spider, on the other hand, has consistency and personality to spare. She's one of the most fully-realized new Marvel characters in ages, and her struggle with her powers and self-imposed responsibilities is arguably even more relatable than most other Spider-Man, thanks to the extra scoop of hurt and confusion that lies beyond her cool veneer, as well as the fact that she's not a tech genius like Peter or Miles, nor a particularly trained fighter. Whereas the classic 616 Gwen is forever immortalized as a victim, Ghost-Spider is very much the hero of her own story.
In other words, it's high time to let the old Gwen Stacy go and embrace the Ghost-Spider version, who's not defined by the historical ballast of Gwen Staciness and has her wholly own thing going on. As part of that process, we'll need to drop the whole Spider-Gwen name and allow her to exist as a superhero in her own right, instead of just seeming like a quirky alternate version.
Let's leave the Gwen codename to another Gwen-themed superhero, and let Ghost-Spider be her own thing
There's one more reason to abandon the Spider-Gwen name and embrace Ghost-Spider: There's another Gwen out there who is not a variant of Gwen Stacy, and whose Gwen-themed codename actually makes sense.
Gwendolyn Poole, aka Gwenpool, started out as a Deadpool-themed Spider-Gwen homage, but fans loved the variant cover concept so much that she soon became a fully-realized Marvel Comics character. In the comics, Gwenpool is a real-world person who gets sucked into the Marvel comic book universe and decides to become a costumed adventurer, using her real-person powers to break, distort, and manipulate the medium in various outrageous ways that'd make She-Hulk turn an even brighter shade of green with envy. Amusingly, and despite her obvious connection with Deadpool, her in-universe superhero name isn't a Spider-Gwen-style play on an existing codename — she's just a person named Gwendolyn Poole, and "Gwenpool" is just how the person who made her uniform read her name. She decided to roll with it.
With Deadpool's (Ryan Reynolds) impeding arrival in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's probably only a matter of time before Gwenpool joins him. Meanwhile, considering how huge the "Spider-Verse" movies have made Ghost-Spider, it stands to reason that the MCU will want to eventually introduce a live-action version as well — perhaps whenever the MCU also inevitably brings in Miles Morales .
Despite their origins, Ghost-Spider and Gwenpool are very much two separate characters, and it'd sure be nice if we could clearly separate them ahead of their live-action debuts, wouldn't it?
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Spidey and His Amazing Friends Marvel Supersized Ghost-Spider 9-inch Action Figure, Preschool Super Hero Toy for Kids Ages 3 and Up
Purchase options and add-ons.
- SUPER HERO ACTION FIGURE: Web-out with the Spidey and His Amazing Friends Supersized Ghost-Spider Action Figure! This 9-inch-tall figure comes with a web accessory for ultimate imaginative play
- POSEABLE HEADS AND ARMS: Ghost-Spider figure’s head and arms move, so preschoolers can move them into dynamic action poses that recreate the excitement of the TV show
- ATTACHABLE WEB ACCESSORY: Kids can attach the included web accessory to the Ghost-Spider figure’s wrist so she can “web out” just like in the preschool animated show on Disney Junior
- GREAT GIFT FOR SUPER HERO FANS: These preschool Marvel action figures make awesome holiday or birthday presents for girls and boys ages 3 and up who love Super Hero toys
- KEEP THE ACTION GOING: Look for Supersized Miles Morales: Spider-Man and Supersized Spidey action figures (each sold separately, subject to availability) for even more Spidey Team fun
- FRUSTRATION-FREE PACKAGING: Ships in simple, recyclable packaging that’s easy to open and frustration free
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It’s Spidey time! Spidey and His Amazing Friends Supersized Ghost-Spider action figure is made for big imaginations. At 9 inches tall, this large-scale, poseable superhero action figure is big, friendly, and ready to play! Kids can can attach the included web accessory to the figure’s wrist and move Ghost-Spider figure’s head and arms into fun action poses to recreate favorite scenes from the preschool Marvel animated show on Disney Junior. Look for Supersized Spidey and Supersized Miles Morales: Spider-Man action figures (each sold separately, subject to availability) for more Spidey fun! These Spidey toys make great gifts for kids ages 3 and up who love the Super Hero adventures of the Spidey Team. Copyright MARVEL. All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Hasbro and all related terms are trademarks of Hasbro.
WARNING: Small parts may be generated. Not for children under 3 years.
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Customer Reviews, including Product Star Ratings help customers to learn more about the product and decide whether it is the right product for them.
To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyzed reviews to verify trustworthiness.
Customers like the appearance, size and quality of the toy figure. They mention that it looks good, the attention to detail in the ghostly appearance and articulation is impressive, and that the size was great. They also appreciate the durability, saying that the construction ensures long-lasting play. Customers also say that it's perfect for imaginative adventures and role-playing.
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Customers are satisfied with the quality of the toy. They mention that it is well-made, sturdy, and just the right size. The durable construction ensures long-lasting play, and it's perfect for imaginative adventures and role-playing. The toy is an absolute thrill, and provides endless entertainment for Spider-Man fans of all ages.
"...She's obsessed with ghost spider! She loved it. It well made, sturdy and just the right size for her!" Read more
"...or exploring new dimensions, this Spidey Ghost toy delivers endless entertainment for Spider-Man fans of all ages...." Read more
"Nice and sturdy . Great height. Kids love em. I bought a 2nd for a gift for a little girl who also loves Ghost Spider" Read more
"...larger than I thought it would be, it’s nearly Barbie height and incredibly durable minus the web attachment, which doesn’t seem to actually fit..." Read more
Customers are satisfied with the appearance of the toy. They say it looks good, is nice, and sturdy. They also appreciate the attention to detail in the ghostly appearance and articulation.
"hard to find Ghost spider toys where I live. it looks good . should work well as a gift" Read more
"The Spidey Ghost toy is an absolute thrill! With its unique design and interactive features, it brings the excitement of the Spider-Man universe to..." Read more
" Nice and sturdy. Great height. Kids love em. I bought a 2nd for a gift for a little girl who also loves Ghost Spider" Read more
Customers are satisfied with the size of the toy figure. They mention that it is great and unbreakable.
"...She loved it. It well made, sturdy and just the right size for her !" Read more
"This toy is a great size and came in perfect condition. My daughter absolutely loves it. It’s a great giftable toy for any spider gwen loving kid." Read more
"The size was great , unbreakable, my granddaughter loved it" Read more
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Ghost Photos: A Close Look at the Paranormal
One thing that ghosts , Bigfoot , and UFOs have in common is a lack of hard evidence for their existence. Many people report seeing these phenomena, though sightings are essentially stories, not proof.
According to many "ghost experts," just about anyone can find evidence of ghosts using a device found in nearly every home: a camera . Ghost stories and sightings are fine, but what can we make of images claimed to be actual photographs of dead spirits?
Last year an exhibition of spirit photography was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Several of the pictures on display were created by Boston photographer William H. Mumler, who first claimed to have captured ghosts on film. Mumler produced many "spirit photographs" in the latter half of the 1800s, depicting faint, ghostly images in otherwise normal portraits. This caused a sensation and convinced many people with his seemingly excellent proof of ghosts.
Yet there was more to Mumler's photographic proof of life after death than met the eye; he was exposed as a hoaxer when some of the "ghosts" he had photographed were seen very much alive, living and working in Boston. In the process of his work, Mumler had simply stumbled across a crude method of double exposure, and hatched a plan to make a fortune with his fakes.
Thus, ghost photography began as an unseemly blend of photographic error and outright hoax.
Ghost photo categories
The clear images of ghosts and dead souls depicted by Mumler are long gone. Despite dramatically improved optical equipment and cameras over the past century, most "ghost photos" fall into two categories: 1) hazy, indistinct shapes that can be interpreted as a human form; and 2) "mysterious" glowing white blobs called orbs.
Both can be easily (and accidentally) created by photographic error, and the latter are by far the most common. Books, television shows, and Web sites about ghosts often include photographs of orbs that investigators (or just ordinary people) find scary, amazing, or simply puzzling. Orb photos are essentially Rorschach cards, though the forms are usually white and round instead of black and blobby. The interpretations of both, however, reveal much about how the viewer sees the world.
Orbs may take a variety of forms. There is not one blanket cause for all orbs; many things can create the phenomena, including insects and dust close to the camera lens.
In a series of experiments, I was able to create orb photos under a wide range of circumstances. Orbs can be found in the most un-spooky of settings, and are actually fairly common in daily, amateur photography. They are usually only noticed when a person is actively looking for them as evidence of ghosts. For example, this photo is one of several images I snapped at a New Year's wedding reception that later revealed odd glowing orbs. Proof of spectral party crashers, or a simple photographic trick of light?
The easiest way to create an orb image is to take a flash photograph outdoors on a rainy night. The flash will reflect off the individual droplets and appear as white, floating orbs (the effect is most pronounced in a light rain, though even a little moisture in the air can create mysterious orbs). As researcher Joe Nickell notes in his book Camera Clues , unnoticed shiny surfaces are also common sources of orbs. (As well, flashes reflecting camera straps can produce other ghostly photo effects.)
During one investigation I conducted several years ago at Fort George ("Canada's most haunted place ," in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario), I examined a large, wooden soldiers' barracks where ghosts and orbs had been reported. I took several flash photographs of the area, and I noticed that the building (essentially a barn-like structure) was quite dusty. As a television crew interviewed some ghost hunters , I noticed one orb, photographed it, and wondered what it might be ( image).
It hovered about chest-high and did not move at all, suggesting that it was not an insect nor a dust particle; instead it seemed supernaturally suspended in the air. It was several feet away from the nearest post, wall, or other visible means of support. The phenomenon was very strange.
I showed the image to one of the ghost hunters, who seemed pleased that I had captured what was obviously a ghost orb.
Upon further investigation...
Not content to simply declare my orb a sure sign of the supernatural , a fellow investigator and I searched even harder for a solution.
Sure enough, closer investigation revealed that the orb was in fact a tiny piece of dust or lint that clung to the remnants of a spider web ( image). It was a very unusual place for a web, and had I not traced the long, nearly-invisible line to its arachnid anchor, I would have rejected a web as an explanation. But it was a very long strand and just far enough away from the walkway that all but the tallest passersby would not walk through it. The dust mote was very difficult to see, and only apparent when a dark color appeared behind it for contrast, or when caught in a flash photograph.
Had an amateur ghost-hunter spent a few minutes taking flash photos of that room at night, the dust would likely have appeared as an orb--and its true cause almost certainly overlooked as an explanation.
Orbs seem otherworldly because they are almost always invisible to the naked eye and go unnoticed until the photo is examined, later revealing the presence of a ghostly, unnatural, glowing object, sometimes appearing over or around an unsuspecting person. To those unaware of scientific and optical explanations, it is no wonder that orbs spook people (as Mumler's photos did 120 years ago). Most ghost investigators will admit that at least some orb photos are of ordinary phenomena. Still, they insist, there must be some orbs that defy rational explanation. None have yet been found. Of course it's possible that ghosts and spirits do exist and can be photographed. But if so, where's the proof? And why do images of ghosts look exactly like images of photographic errors?
Ghost enthusiasts are satisfied with hazy images and orbs, but this will never convince skeptics and scientists. So what would be good photographic proof of ghosts?
An authentic photograph of anyone born before the invention of photography would be a good start: Benjamin Franklin , William Shakespeare, or any of thousands of other people for whom we have a good record of their likeness but no photograph. Just one such photo would be more convincing than a thousand glowing blobs. Unfortunately, all the ghost photos offered so far are indistinguishable from intentional fakes and optical mistakes. Maybe next year.
Benjamin Radford is an investigator with the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and author or co-author of three books .
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Spidey and His Amazing Friends: Ghost Spider RealBig - Officially Licensed Marvel Removable Wall Adhesive Decal
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FEATURES: Thick, high-grade vinyl resists tears, rips & fading. Reusable design is safe for walls. Sticks to most smooth surfaces.
DETAILS: Indoor use. No tape or tacks required. Made in USA.
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1. UNROLL your Fathead, and let relax flat on the floor for an hour.
2. PREP your wall while your Fathead relaxes. Choose a wall according to the dimensions of your decal, and wipe down the wall surface with water to remove dust and dirt.
3. PEEL with the help of a friend from the top down. Slowly peel away from backing without letting the Fathead stick to itself.
4. STICK one corner of your Fathead to the wall with minimal pressure and apply outwards from there. If you make a mistake, you can unpeel and try again.
5. SMOOTH out air bubbles and wrinkles. Start from the middle, and push out toward edges.ENJOY your awesome Fathead decal!
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