What is this winged nightmare? Picture of strange creature terrifies social media users

Internet - If you don't like spiders, this picture might be the stuff of nightmares: it seems to show a flying tarantula! But maybe it's not what it seems.

This animal freaked out a lot of Facebook users.
This animal freaked out a lot of Facebook users.  © Facebook/Screenshot/Mamalón

Does this animal really exist or is it some creepy photoshop edit? And if it's real, what is it exactly?

The picture of the fuzzy-legged winged creature appeared on the Facebook page Mamalón last week.

Many of the Facebook page's 2.8 million followers thought that this insect looked like a tarantula with wings. The post's caption said "Antheraea Polyphemus, basically a tarantula with wings."

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But before you panic, take a deep breath. 

There is no such thing as a tarantula with wings. This insect is real, it's just not what it looks like!

It's actually a giant silk moth!

Some social media users weren't tricked

Facebook user Kevin Navarrete was not fooled and he posted another picture of a huge silk moth.
Facebook user Kevin Navarrete was not fooled and he posted another picture of a huge silk moth.  © Facebook/Screenshot/Kevin Navarrete

These giant silk moths – or Polyphemus moths – are native to North America and can be found all over Central Canada and the United States. But even though they are common, not many of the 22,000 people replying to the post recognized it for what it was. Most users were just terrified.

One wrote, "I swear that if I see that mother I will faint hahaha". 

Another was less shocked by the image and wrote, "2020 can't surprise us any more."

A third was much more alarmed: "The time has come to look for another planet."

But not everyone was fooled. Some Facebook users posted more photos of these completely harmless insects.

So if you have arachnophobia, you don't need to be afraid of this flying creature with furry legs. You might just need to see them with their wings open – they're actually quite graceful and often display intricate, colorful patterns. 

But then again the angle in that first picture does make look like a tarantula with wings, so maybe it's just best to avoid insect pictures altogether.

Cover photo: Mamalón

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