Currently viewing the category: "Spiders"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Gold spider
Location: Birmingham, England
October 23, 2010 7:06 am
I like in Birmingham, UK, and spotted a strange spider today – it was about 3cm across, hairy and the markings on its back were a very bright gold. I took a picture as I’ve never seen a spider like it before, and was wondering what it is and if it’s actually native to Britain.
Signature: Sarah Clark

Cross Spider

Dear Sarah,
The Cross Spider or Garden Spider,
Araneus diadematus, is a European species that is common in the UK and information regarding it may be found on the UK Safari website.  The species has the distinction of providing the first spiders, Anita and Arabella, to be shot into space aboard Skylab II.  Here is some information from the Aerospace Guide website:
“Although the STS-107 spiders were the first Australian animals in space, they weren’t the first spiders in space. Anita and Arabella, two female cross spiders (Araneus diadematus) went into orbit in 1973 for Skylab 3 space station. Like the STS-107 experiment, the Skylab experiment was a student project. Judy Miles, from Lexington, Massachusetts, wanted to know if spiders could spin webs in near-weightlessness. Here is Judith Miles:
In zero gravity, a lot of things tumble, roll, flip and tip. Can you name something that spins in zero-gravity? Hint: it has eight legs and would scare Miss Muffet.
That’s right: a spider. In this case, two of them. Anita and Arabella took off into space way back in 1973. They were on board Skylab, an early, experimental orbiting space station. Also on board were 720 fruit flies, six mice, two minnows and 50 minnow eggs! Busy place.
What was this creature-zoo up to? They were all part of student experiments. Anita and Arabella were onboard for high school student Judy Miles from Lexington, Massachusetts. Judy wondered if spiders could spin webs in weightlessness. Good question.
So, the lucky student got to team up with NASA space scientists to design an experiment that would measure how well spiders weave their webs in space.
So what did Judy and NASA learn? Zero gravity didn’t stop Anita and Arabella from doing what spiders do — spin webs.
This little bit of first spider in space
Spiders have been astronauts in space missions. In 1973, the two common cross spiders “aranous diadematus” Arabella and Anita became famous for their stay in the Skylab space station.
Both spiders were successful in spinning webs in weightlessness; examples can be seen in above images.
Unfortunately, these two spiders did not return safely: Anita died in-flight before returning, and Arabella was found dead after splash-down of the Skylab-3 (2nd manned mission) Apollo CM.
Arabella and Anita have the right stuff. These two common spiders were NASA’s first eight-legged astronauts! Anita and Arabella got their mission because a high-school student named Judy Miles wondered if spiders could spin webs in a weightless environment. She suggested sending spiders into space to find out. NASA space scientists liked her proposal and went to work designing special cages, lights, and cameras.
On August 5, 1973, Arabella and Anita blasted off into space on Skylab II. On her first day in orbit, Arabella didn’t do well. She spun sloppy webs and obviously felt the effects of weightlessness. However, by her third day in space, she was spinning just as though she were back at home. Her webs were finer in space, which was expected. But the pattern remained the same. She proved that spiders can spin nearly Earth-like webs in space.
Though Arabella and Anita have both died, their bodies remain at the Smithsonian, memorialized for their small, vital part in increasing our knowledge of space.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Vietnamese bathroom spider
Location: Hue, Central Vietnam
October 21, 2010 6:26 pm
I have often seen this guy (or gal) and others like him in damp locations inside houses, in Hue, Vietnam. Legspan included, the largest ones are about 4 inches across.The legs, at the thickest section, can be up to 3/8 inch diameter, maybe more. I haven’t ever seen them in the bedroom or living room, so I take it they like moisture. I tried to post 2 photos, but kept getting a ”failed to send message, please try later” warning. The second photo showed that the spider’s legspan matches the length of a soapdish.
Signature: curious traveller

Huntsman Spider

Dear Curious Traveller [sic],
Your spider appears to be one of the Hunstman Spiders, most probably
Heteropoda venatoria, a species found in warm ports around the world that was introduced to many new habitats because of the importation of bananas.  They are nocturnal predators that feed upon cockroaches.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Spider (Huntsman?) in Lusaka, Zambia
Location: Lusaka, Zambia
October 21, 2010 4:11 am
Dear Bugman,
last night (around 8pm., 2 hours after sunset) I almost stepped on this spider (body size appr. 3.5 cm / 1.4 inches), which was sitting on the grass in our garden. We are located in the city of Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa). Currently it is dry season with the rainy season approaching.
The spider did not move for the entire time I took from discovering it to fetching the camera and taking some photos (with flash). Also placing my slipper next to it for size comparison did not make it move.
Any hints are greatly appreciated. Thank you very much in advance!
Signature: Spider-Illiterate

Possibly Wolf Spider

Dear Spider-Illiterate,
In our opinion, this appears to be a Wolf Spider, but we are not certain.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Male Brush Footed Trapdoor
Location: Queensland Au
October 21, 2010 12:22 am
Hi Guys,
We have been having heaps of rain down here and it bought this stunning male Brush Footed Trapdoor (Idiommata iridescens) to my back verandah. I didn’t find out till I got an ID that it is highly venomous in the same sort of toxicity as our infamous Sydney Funnel Web.
Signature: aussietrev

Brush Footed Trapdoor Spider

Hi Trevor,
Thanks for sending us another excellent photo of an unusual Australian species.  We had not heard of any highly venomous Trapdoor Spiders, so we decided to do a bit of internet sleuthing to find some information.  Our first hit, the Find A Spider Guide for the Spiders of Southern Queensland, produced your very photograph.  Not much else of any use turned up.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

California Trapdoor Spider (photos)
Location:  Mt Washington, Los Angeles, CA
October 20, 2010 12:16 pm
Last night I found what I believe to be a California Trapdoor Spider climbing the wall near my front porch.  As it’s unusual to see such a huge spider in our area I captured it rather than killing it so it could be relocated to a more suitable location.  I thought I would share the photos as the one of it’s relocation shows it in pretty good detail and color.  Enjoy!
~ Chris

California Trapdoor Spider

Hi Chris,
We really love California Trapdoor Spiders.  You did not indicate where you live, but since our offices are in Los Angeles, we know all about the unseasonal rains that have been falling for several days now.  Male California Trapdoor Spiders wander about in search of a mate after the first rains of the season.  Sadly, many wander into swimming pools and drown.  We are happy you rescued this guy and released him.  Hopefully he will get lucky and perpetuate the species.

Hi Daniel,
I did forget to include that!  I live at the base of Mt. Washington at the L.A./Eagle Rock border.  I’m about 2 miles from the ‘wild’ area of the mountain so I imagine this guy either got washed out or hitched a ride down as there isn’t a good habitat for him in my immediate area.  He’s been happily relocated back to the Heidelberg Park area of the mountain and should find plenty to keep his attention up there!  Feel free to use either of the photos I linked on your website if they will work for your purpose.  Thanks for maintaining a good resource on the CTS!

Hi Chris,
Thanks for the additional information.  Daniel lives in Mt Washington near Elyria Canyon, so it appears we are neighbors.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Gorgeous orange girl
Location:  Leander, Texas (Near Austin)
October 20, 2010 8:24 am
I keep and breed tarantulas, and have a deep appreciation for ”true” spiders. With approximately 860 known species, Theraphosidae are easily identified, however true spiders continue to vex me with their variety. This beautiful girl is ”hanging out” on my deck, located in Leander, TX, about 10 minutes out of Austin. I have never seen anything besides Latrodectus with such a remarkable ventral marking. What is this lovely creature?
Signature:  Tarantula Terri

Orbweaver with Prey

Dear Tarantula Terri,
This lovely creature is an Orbweaver in the genus
Araneus.  In the fall, shortly before Halloween, many spiders have matured and reached their full size.  These impressive creatures, especially the Orbweavers, are suddenly very visible as they spin large orb webs and position themselves in the webs.  They attract considerable attention.  It appears the female in your photo has snared a Yellow Jacket.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination