Monday, December 22, 2008

Gotta have my spider fix!

It's been a long time (or so it seems; it was December 7th.) since I found any tiny critters to blog about. It's too cold; even the sowbugs have made themselves scarce. I found myself wandering around looking at the corners of ceilings, and under flowerpots or under the outside chairs.  But they're all gone, sleeping or dead.

I thought, when I came to house-sit, that the situation would change; after all, it's a heritage house. (Translated, that means, "really old, with original lumber and lots of cozy cracks.")  And there were plenty last summer. (See "Fifty-six legs") I brought a couple of pill bottles to collect them with, and wondered if, maybe, I shouldn't have packed more.

But there's not a bug in sight. I checked under the sinks, and down in the basement and even the crawl space. All I found were a couple of tiny, pin-head-size house spiders. 

This seems to me to be an odd situation for the Lower Mainland. When I lived up north, I took it for granted that we would have no multi-legged critters from October to March, but here? In this damp climate, I don't think I've ever seen a winter without an invasion of sowbugs into the damp corners under sinks and behind bathtubs, and the spiders that hunt them. Or in these older homes in urban areas, a silverfish or twenty.

I took a flashlight and thoroughly inspected every cranny here. And finally, I found it; behind the furnace, where it's always warm and dry, a spider is hanging. Twisting, and making myself as skinny as possible, I could reach far enough to get a photo!

Ahhhhh! That feels good! And isn't she elegant!

Almost the same photo ( I didn't have much maneuvering room), and not as clear, but I got a face shot. 

This seems to be the same kind as one I found in the summer. Now, checking back, I realize that I didn't ID it because the computer went down.  It looks like it could possibly be one of the Longjawed Orb Weavers, the Tetragnathidae, but I can't be sure.  I'll send it in to BugGuide for an ID.

Now I'm wondering; what on earth is she getting to eat?


  1. Ha...glad you found yourself a bug to ID and she/he certainly is lovely...thanks for sharingimede

  2. Anonymous10:27 am

    Nice pictures. It looks to me like the cellar spiders (Pholcus phalangioides) I found in our house a couple of weeks ago.

  3. pictures! I like the first one with the nice huge spider shadow! I commend you on your diligence in sussing out the spider!
    My first though was Tetragnathidae too? Jeez look at the fangs on that thing! Does that not scream long jawed spider! Then I read your post. Mmmm not in the house. Tetragnathidae are usually near water or in grass. I don't think they are typically found in buildings-but never say never! I often see them around docks with their legs stretched straight out in front and behind when resting. Inside, the only one I can think of with huge fangs and stupendous legs is the Pholcidae family. The are called cellar spiders or vibrating spiders, or daddy long legs (not to be confused with harvestmen who are also called daddy long legs-they are in the Phalangiidae family). I've found cellar spiders in dark places. Exactly which one-that call is way out my pay grade! There are 40ish species of cellar spiders in north America.

    Note one of the names is vibrating spiders! I knew there had to be video of this somewhere on the web! I found this, you gotta go see this link,

    The resolution isn't great, but you can see them vibrate and spin!
    Is nicely produce, credits and all, but no spinning. Those are probably male and female as they are often found near one another

  4. Tim, It does look like that. BTW, I'd bookmarked your instructions about keeping spiders; very practical. Now all I need is a jar with perfectly clear, non-warping, glass sides.

    Pam, Very helpful. I liked the video. I've seen them do that! I thought I'd broken the web, and that was just rebound. Now I know better.

    I found the BugGuide page, and a Wikipedia page on them.

  5. My vote would go for a pholcid. (My house is full of them!)

    The Annotated Budak has a fantastic close up of a mum of another species carrying an egg bundle in her jaws.

  6. Snail, Thank you.

    That's a gorgeous photo!

  7. Ok. I'm confused. I know that is NOT a daddy long leg. So is it in the same family and called a cellar spider? Are they harmless like a daddy longleg?

    1. Some people call them daddy long legs. But no, they are not in the same family as the ones we call daddy long legs, which are aracnids, but not spiders. We call them harvestmen.
      The cellar spiders are true spiders, but they are completely harmless to humans. Not so much to other spiders; they catch and eat spiders much bigger than themselves. They're good to have around the house; they catch and eat mosquitoes and other pests.

  8. What exactly do they feast on?? I have found two in the cupboard under my cooker and she has had babies!! It’s an old house that I am renting and recently had the kitchen redone but these babies have made a little home for themselves and not a pest at all she seems to disappear from her babies but when I go into the cupboard she went back over to them I will try and get a photo

    1. They're quite efficient predators. From what I've seen, they catch and eat many small bugs, so small that we wouldn't have noticed them, plus a bunch of other spiders, even quite large ones.


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