Sowbug Killer

Dulce de Leche Spider
March 13, 2010
Dear WTB,
Longtime reader, first-time inquiring. Cleaning out the woodpile is always a critter goldmine, so I made sure to have the camera handy. Sure enough, this fellow crawled out. He was VERY adverse to sunlight – scrambled immediately for shade/cover – but I did snap a few off before he vanished into the tall grass. I’ve lived here (SoCal) my whole life and have never seen his equal. He had a quarter-sized circumference (sorry I couldn’t get a coin down for reference) and his back half looked like an acrylic nail painted with dulce de leche. I would love an ID and my wife would like to know if he can bite/is poisonous (she doesn’t want it dead, but just wants to know how afraid she should be). Thank you!
Venice, CA

Sowbug Killer

Hi Greg,
Thanks for the nice letter.  Your spider is a Sowbug Killer or Woodlouse Hunter, Dysdera corcata.  The species is not native and was introduced from the Mediterranean region.  As with many other spiders, the bite is not dangerous, but it might be painful and cause local tenderness.  The Sowbug Killer is not aggressive, but it might bite if it is carelessly handled.

Thank you Daniel!  Your site rules.  I cannot wait for the book.
Because of WTB, I have totally started calling Potato Bugs “Jerusalem Crickets” which puzzles my friends but seems to comfort the wife…who is Israeli (and is anti-bug, particularly the abundance of silverfish living in her psych.books).

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