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Viral Facebook post warning of 'new deadly spider' a hoax, experts say

(Facebook)

If you have recently seen a post on Facebook about a "deadly" spider, it is likely a hoax.

The Facebook post reads:

"THE SPIDER FROM HELL .FIVE PEOPLE HAVE DIED THIS WEEK DUE TO THE BITE OF THIS DEADLY SPIDER .THIS SPIDER WAS FIRST SEEN IN SOUTH CAROLINA IN JULY SINCE THEN IT HAS CAUSED DEATHS IN WEST VIRGINIA ,TENNESSEE AND MISSISSIPPI. ONE BITE FROM THIS SPIDER IS DEADLY. US GOVERNMENT WORKING ON A ANTI VENOM AT THIS TIME PLEASE MAKE YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS AWARE"

FOX 42 reached out to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Department of Entomology, whose photo is used in the post.

Lecturer Erin Bauer says the viral warning is untrue. In fact, she says the photo actually shows a woodlouse hunter spider.

"The picture is real but certainly not deadly to anything but the sowbugs and pillbugs it feeds upon!" Bauer said.

She says if a woodlouse hunter spider is in your home, it likely wandered there accidentally and is mostly harmless to humans.

"If it does bite, there may be a bit of pain but it’s not dangerous," Bauer said.

Page 20 of NE Extension's spider guide has more information about the spider.

The fictitious Facebook post has been shared more than 580,000 times.

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