Subject: Tengellid family, I hope?
Location: San Francisco CA USA
May 23, 2014 7:40 pm
In late-February this year, I saw a small almost black-looking spider run across a cabinet and disappear down the side by the stove, too fast to catch. It was probably the size of one of the now-dead-and-dried-up babies in the pictures. I almost never find any bugs other than an occasional moth, fruit fly, or tiny pantry beetle (identified on your great site!) in my large work-space. (No windows, no plumbing, few critters.) I left for a month in Mexico the next day and forgot about the spider. When I returned in late March, there were two small dead-and-dried spiders in an empty plastic bin on the floor under the cabinet where I’d seen the live one a month before. I saved them in a jar for a possible art piece. There didn’t appear to be any webs or more spiders in the cabinet when I poked around a bit, so I forgot about them again, because spiders in the house scare me unreasonably, though I’m not afraid of them when I garden, and admire them very much outdo ors. But YESTERDAY, when I pulled out the plastic bin, there was the HUGE one lying in the bottom, still very-um– flexible, as I discovered when I stopped freaking. I got it spread out and photographed (a LOT because of shaking hands), then thought to put a quarter by it for scale. The flash on my OLD digital camera makes it look lighter then it really is, plus I have fluorescent work lights overhead, but wanted you to see as much detail as possible. Today I realized the markings seem the same on the two dead small ones I found in March, so I put them all together in the other two photos. From the info I found in WTB about “false Brown Recluse” and Tengellid/Titiotus examples, I think this may be what I have, but I’d really like to know for sure. AND when I tear the cabinet apart and really search under and in everything in the vicinity, how DANGEROUS, if at all, is their bite? Also, am I likely to find clusters or heaps or large groups of them? Do they make webs? Or do they just stomp around independently? How big do they get, and WHAT DO THEY WANT???? I KNOW you’re swamped with questions, so thanks VERY much for any info YOU can give me, or point me to the best places to look for as much information as I can find. I LOVE your site and tell as many people as I can about it. I find it fascinating and a very reassuring learning place!
In our opinion, the images of the spiders you submitted look nothing like the Tengellid Spider we have pictured in our archives. We are requesting assistance with its identification and we hope to get back to you soon with an identification. Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide some information.
Thanks, Daniel–I never expected such a quick reply! And of course you’re quite right. I was looking at it out of fear, seeing violins and colors far from reality, and ran screaming to your site for a tranquilizer…! Later, I checked some links you have listed and did some READING about recluse spiders, then looked at many, many pictures of other more possible types, including various Grass Spiders and even Wolf Spiders, which a friend suggested. But what I learned about the Brown Recluse of my fear and the myths associated with it (especially here in Northern California, for pete’s sake!) blew the handcuffs off my brain. I’ve copied some facts about them and cited sources, which will be shared with every gardener and camper I know, so we can all stop being afraid of instant death from the brown (and black and tan) spiders that DO live among us, and start being “cautious but curious” instead! I no longer feel that my studio is in danger of being overrun by packs of snarling arachnids sporting violin-shaped tattoos and thirsting for blood. I feel foolish for acting foolishly, and hope I haven’t wasted your time. Thanks ever so much, Daniel and all, for referring “my” spider to readers who may have come across this type and can identify it and its behavior, so I can learn how to behave!
Eric Eaton provides an identification
Male funnel-web weaver, family Agelenidae. Can’t tell more from the image.
I’m sending this to you, Daniel, because I’m not sure if I should send it with the photos to the “Comment” section on your site. You’ve been so generous with your time and knowledge and I’m very grateful! I extend many thanks to Eric for the identification, and apologies for the hasty images. I’m adding a few more that may be more helpful (at least when zoomed somewhat in Windows Picture Viewer). SPIDER_013 is an underside flash shot of the big guy, (also a copy, Spider_013, over- sharpened in Elements 9, hoping for better detail), and SPIDER2_040 is an underside flash shot of the two small ones I found dead in the empty plastic bin the last week of March. SPIDER_007 is probably the best shot I have showing EYES (when zoomed), and SPIDER_008 is the back end (sort of amazing when zoomed). Now that I know more about what kind of web(s) to look for, I’ll have to start checking my cluttered space for any kids or relatives, and move them to a more appropriate OUTDOOR environment, if I can. And if these photos help narrow down the I.D. possibilities, I’ll have even more information to gather, because this is becoming a VERY interesting learning experience. (At least when I’m not jumping at shadows…) Thanks again. A small donation will be coming to your site in a day or two. Wish it could be more, but artists in San Francisco are also working mostly for the love of it, not money…
Images cannot be attached to comments, only to identification requests. We are posting the image you have indicated that shows the eyes the best. Thanks for your kind words and support.
Mandy Howe provides some input: June 8, 2014
Very sorry for the delay, I was visiting family in Utah, so am behind (don’t have a laptop or anything that I take with me on trips).
The “larger” spider on the right in both images is definitely just a common adult male Tegenaria domestica, found in almost every house in North America. Not dangerous to humans, and is typically found during mating season when they roam at night. They often crawl into sinks or bathtubs for a drink of water and then can’t climb the slippery surface to get out, so people find them most often in those places in the morning.
The other dead spiders on the left in the first image are in the family Gnaphosidae so, in San Francisco, they could be Scotophaeus blackwalli (the “mouse spider”) or Herpyllus propinquus (the “western parson spider”)… those are the two most common species found in homes on the west coast, at least. (I can’t see the abdomen on them to tell which species.)
Hope that helps!