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

Saw this bug crawling around on the front of our house and front stoop. It has 8 red legs and looks like it has three segments. Is this a spider? I’d hate to find this crawling around on my bed one night. Should we be concerned about this bug? We live on the east coast.
Bruce

Dear Bruce,
It’s a spider. I’m not sure exactly what, but it is impressive. I will
continue to try to identify it. How large was it? Where on the east coast?

Daniel,
We live in Calvert County, Maryland. The spider was about 3/4″ long. Let me
know what you find out. This is a scary looking spider for sure!
Bruce

Dear Bruce,
I have been obsessed with your spider.After hours online, I found it. It is one of three spiders on the endangered species list in Maryland, and is also endangered in most of its range. It seems to be most common in Alabama, though fire ants and armadillos have harmed its numbers there as well. I hope your red legged purseweb spider is still among the living. Here is some additional information I copied from a site. Thank you for your awesome photo. Sphodros rufipes Found in Alabama The First Recorded Distribution of the Purseweb Spider, Sphodros rufipes (Family Atypidae), from Alabama. Rose M. Parrino, W. Mike Howell,Ph.D., and Ronald L. Jenkins,Ph.D., Department of Biology, Samford University, Birmingham, AL 35229 The spider family Atypidae represents an ancient branch of the infraorder Mygalomorphae. These large, primitive spiders have been recorded for most of the southeastern United States, but no records have been documented for the State of Alabama. It is the purpose of this report to officially record the purseweb spider, Sphodros rufipes Latreille from Alabama. These spiders are referred to as “purseweb spiders” because of the tough, tubular web which they construct in the ground at the base of a tree and extend aerially up the side of the tree attaching it to the tree’s bark. The web is further camouflaged by the addition of lichens, algae, dead leaf bits, dirt and other debris to its surface. When an insect disturbs the web’s surface, the purseweb spider reacts by biting its prey through the tube, cutting a slit, repairing the slit, and awaiting another meal. According to Gertsch and Platnick (1980, Amer. Mus. Novitates No. 2704: 1-39, figs. 1-60), S. rufipes previously has been found at four sites in Tennessee, two in North Carolina, one in Georgia, six in northern Florida, two in Mississippi, four in Louisiana, and one in Texas. A population of Sphodros rufipes was discovered at the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, Jefferson County, AL, (T 17S, R 2W, sec 13) on 16 Oct. 1997. The aerial portion of the web was approximately 140 mm above the ground and a uniform 20 mm in its width. Only 10-12 mm of the top portion of the tube was attached to tree, and this portion of the tube was white and not camouflaged. When the underground portion of the web, which extended to approximately 160 mm, was excavated and the tubular web was removed, it was found to contain a large female spider, 25 mm in total body length. The web also contained approximately 228 spiderlings, each about 2.5 mm in total body length. All spiderlings, except for 10 specimens, were returned to the site. The 10 spiderlings and the adult female were preserved for scientific documentation and deposited in the American Museum of Natural History. The adult specimen was examined by Dr. Norman Platnick, who verified it as S. rufipes.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination


Dear Daniel,
I’m sorry to report that my captive black widow has apparently expired, without warning, and before her time (I think), and I’m hoping that you might be able to offer some possible causes of death.
I found this brave arachnid in my house, right next to the front door, where she had constructed a nice web in the corner. This was surprising, because these spiders are typically shy-er and aviod the insides of our home, keeping to the piles of garbage and debris that surround it. I dusted off my spider cage and tossed her in with some sticks, and she set up shop immediately, dispatching every bug I could capture and introduce into her one-spider ecosystem. She ate four flies in about three weeks, and then, last night I caught three June beetles almost at once and decied to toss them all in and see how she’d handle an overabundance of supplies. She caught and wrapped all three in quick succession, then set to work on one, and I went to bed. This morning she was curled up in a ball on the bottom of the cage (see photo). Now there’s a giant bead of clear fluid emerging from her mouth-parts-area, and her legs are sort of clenching up and slowly releasing, over and over.
Could all this be the result of a tainted june beetle? Is she going to suddenly pop out of her old exoskeleton and finish off the three meals left un-eaten in her web? Please advise.
Yours,
Sean Dungan

Dear Sean,
I have never heard of a spider stuffing herself to death, but I guess that is always a possibility. I guess you should just wait and see what happens. Her typical lifespan would be three years, and it is entirely possible that you had a senior citizen move in with you.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Friends;
It’s summertime in the Canyon, so that means it’s bugtime. I killed a number of these over the holiday weekend, but thought I’d take a picture of this lady before I smushed her with a broom.

I would’ve tried to get in closer, but admittedly, I was a little scared.
Chris

Hi Chris,
Thanks for the update on the buggy canyon. Just two days ago I overturned an old piece of wood while planting an oak seedling, and lo and behold, there was a big fat black widow snuggled in a crack on the underside. I gingerly replaced the wood. I have heard it said that there isn’t a house in southern California that isn’t home to at least 15 black widows, despite the actions of paranoid home owners and the attempts of exterminators to eradicate the species from the planet. Though she is a desert creature, the Western Black Widow Spider, Latrodectus hesperus, seeks out dark, cool, and usually damp locations to spin her indefinite web. Look for her in wood piles, hollow stumps, crawlspaces and among refuse stored in garages and attics. The water heater area is often a favorite site. The sexes exhibit pronounced dimorphism, looking like two entirely different species. The male is small and greyish while the much larger female is usually a glossy black, with a red (though sometimes orange or even yellow) hourglass marking beneath her bulbous shiny abdomen. The size difference contributes to her reputation as a man eater. The bite of both sexes is poisonous, and the venom is reported to be 15 times as strong as that of a rattle snake. Though they are not aggressive, preferring to hide in the dark, they occasionally bite people. Avoid contact with the spider and immediately call a physician if a bite occurs. An ice bag should be placed on the wound and the victim should be kept calm.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination