What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I was really hoping to find my mystery spider on your page. Since it was not there, Here it is! Please help. This one is really ugly (beautiful?) — scary looking (since I have 3 small children). Thus, I felt compelled to put it to rest after taking the photos. I have lived in Salt Lake, Utah area for 7 years and have never once seen anything even resembling this spider. Further questions are: I’m assuming since I have seen one, and it appeared mature (about the size of a walnut when curled up, the butt (abdomen, thorax?) is about the size of a garbanzo bean.) there must be more around. I have lived in this house for 7 months and this is the first I have seen of this type of spider. It was outdoors. Should I expect to see more of them or is this a unique situation. Does it live underground? In trees? Fields? Anyways. I guess any information you could give me on it would be helpful and once identified I could do some research on my own.
IT appears to RESEMBLE a verrucosa type. But the legs appear much "healthier" in size. After reading everything on your site I feel bad about "getting rid of" it. I was in a hurry and didn’t want it to get away if it was dangerous for my children. Please forgive me.
B. Clark
Salt Lake City, Utah

Hi Benjamin
First, I must appologize for the lengthy delay. Sometimes we can identify something quickly and other times a very circuitous route brings us to an answer. Just yesterday, I got a letter from young Nicholas inquiring about a Catspider. I had never heard of it. His dad wrote back thanking me and providing a link that lead to the identification of your spider, Araneas gemmoides, the Cat Faced Spider. Here is Nicholas’ dad’s letter:

(01/20/2005) Dear Bugman, What my son is referring to is a Cat Spider, aka Cat-face Spider, and what this site is calling Araneus gemmoides. There are never very many, but we occasionally get one living on our porch. They create big, beautiful and strong orb webs. As a kid, we called the one on our porch a “pet”. I seem to remember hundreds of baby cat spiders hatching all at once. We will be sure to send you a picture if we see another one this coming summer. Thank you for taking the time to answer my son’s questions. He’s a bit of a young spider & bug fanatic, and always has at least one tank (usually more) with a spider inside – he even kept a black widow for about 3 weeks over the summer, which was both fascinating and scary for us as parents.
Best Regards,
Nick’s Dad

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
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