Subject: Guatemalan Fellow
Geographic location of the bug: Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Your letter to the bugman: Greetings Bugman!
In 2016 my husband and I took a vacation in the breathtakingly beautiful Central American country of Guatemala. This was during the rainy season, approximately mid May.
We stayed at a hotel in the provincial area of Panajachel, right on Lago De Atitlan. The hotel itself was spectacular, with many open areas and semi-outdoor corridors.
One day I stumbled upon this handsome fellow hanging out about 2.5 feet up a stucco wall.
Any idea what he is? I hope he’s a juvenile tarantula, but we were a good distance away from Tikal (where most tarantula’s are found in the country), and I don’t suspect there are many arboreal species of tarantula in Guatemala anyway (and I assume this would be an arboreal fellow, hanging out on a wall.)
How you want your letter signed: Liz
This looks to us like a female Southern House Spider, Kukulcania hibernalis. According to BugGuide: “Females are frequently mistaken for small tarantulas or trapdoor spiders. Males are often mistaken for recluse spiders (Loxosceles). This is a totally harmless species that builds ‘messy’ webs emanating from crevices, often on the outside of homes.” According to SpiderID: “Kukulcania hibernalis (Southern House Spider) has been sighted in the following countries: Argentina, United States. Kukulcania hibernalis has also been sighted in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia.” Spiders tend to ignore international borders, so we suspect if they are found in the U.S. and Argentina, they are likely occurring in some countries between them as well. We would not discount that this might be a related species in the genus. According to Encyclopedia of Life: “The synanthropic Southern House Spider (Kukulcania hibernalis) is found in the southeastern United States (Bradley 2013), but is also widespread in South America (Brescovit and Santos 2013).”
Very good! Thank you so much for solving this two-year-long mystery. 🙂