Thursday, May 31, 2007

More creepy crawlies

NOTE: Click here to read the update to this post.

So I'm helping my Supermodel Wife with the laundry Sunday evening. I get out the drying rack (one of those expanding wood ones) to hang up some clothes when I find I have disturbed someone's new home.

The eight-legged tenant of the laundry room in my basement had, by the look of the dried bug corpse in her web, just finished dinner.

Let me just say that I'm not especially a huge fan of the little buggers, but spiders freak me out a lot less than they used to. I used to have a huge phobia of spiders stemming from a childhood incident when I somehow found myself alone in an abandoned campground shelter -- one of the walls shimmering with thousands millions of long-legged dancing arachnids. I had to walk through a foot-thick layer of cobwebs to get out.

Writing about this now, I can still feel the sticky strands of spider silk clinging to my hair and skin.

Anyway, I'm much better now. I'm much more tolerant of spiders. The way I see it, they're keeping down the rest of the insect population that I have a much bigger issue with. No, spiders and me have an understanding these days. They stay at least six feet away from me at all times and don't inhabit public spaces, and I don't crush them out of shear abject terror.

So you can see my dilemma when I found this particular spider had reneged on the deal. I don't want to be unreasonable and smash the thing on general principle, since the drying rack was put away when she decided to live there. But surely you can see that I can't allow the use of the drying rack for a spider home, especially on laundry day.

I was standing there pondering my next move when I took a closer look at the specimen. It had interesting markings on it's back and belly (do spiders have bellies?).That's when the thought struck that I might have something special here. Given the radon levels in our basement, this quite possibly could be the kind of radio active spider that gave Spiderman his powers. How cool would it be to go to work the next day fit and trim and casting webs all over the joint.

So I put the thing on my hand and tried to get it to bite me. Unfortunately, it wasn't feeling very aggressive (I think because it had just gorged itself on a cricket or housefly or whatever the corpse in its web was). So alas, no superpowers.

But I am curious about what kind of spider this is. I know that there are some bloggers out there who are into biology and entomology, so if you could be so kind as to take a stab at identifying the thing in the comments I would appreciate it.

After all, I feel like I should have a name for the thing I ended up smashing.

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  1. You didn't! You should have relocated her. Wasn't she beautiful? Funny how we both use she went talking about a spider.

  2. The second photo is really cool, it looks like a marble. I try not to think about the carnage that goes on in my basement.

  3. I like spyders, but I really, REALLY hate spiders!!! And wasps! And bees!

    My ex and I had a deal. She was in charge of killing the creepy crawleys that bite and sting. If Russian paratroopers ever landed in the front yard, they were my responsibility.

    I know, I know. That's pretty laughable from someone with my views about gun ownership. You are right to be rolling on the floor in convulsive laughter at my blatant hypocrisy. Yuck it up.

    But I figured if I could get the jump on them with my broadsword and flail, I just might be able to take them. I'd rather give that a shot than go anywhere near a spider.

  4. My old boss (God rest her soul) was terrified of mice. And me, well, it's snakes. We had a deal in the office that I dealt with the mice & she dealt with the mechanics who brought the snakes in. I once cornered a mouse & caught him in a coffee can. Too bad that was after he ran over Sue's foot. At least she never cried.

  5. Great pics! I am not a spider expert, so I did something that is really not the best way to identify bugs and spiders...I looked at pictures online. The closest thing I can find is......the domestic spider or common house spider, Theridion tepidariorum. I found it on What's that bug. Here's the link:

    If this is the spider, it belongs to a group of spiders called comb footed spiders.

    To add to the confusuion there is a more recent scientific name and you might check out this link which seems more up to date than what's that bug:

  6. Paul - Thanks for doing the research for my lazy ass. Great info and thanks for the link.

    XO - I figured if communist paratroopers landed in your front yard, you salute and call them comrade ;-)

    spyder - Sorry for my barbarism, but I figure I owe it to Science to play my part in natural selection. In this case, I naturally deselected a specimen that was less successful in choosing a habitat that would contribute to it passing on its genetic material. Evoluion it a bitch.

  7. Tried to catch one last night so I could release her into the wild. She ended up under my couch with the dustbunnies.

  8. emawkc, thank you for doing your part for natural selection. After all, we wouldn't want domesticated spiders. Then we would be talking about poodle spiders rather than comb footed spiders. **eg**

  9. It looks like a false black widow. You will need to spray, b/c where the false widow lives, the real tend to hang out too.


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