And at ground level, the big hunting spiders guard the fort against sowbugs and stray cobweb spiders.
|A big male, on the leg of a garden chair. (I disturbed his cozy hiding place under my yard waste bag.)|
|And another, in the house, at the edge of her messy web on the bottom of a Mexican shopping bag.|
Look at that web again. In the frass, there's the remains of her last molt, down in the right-hand corner; the leftovers from another spider meal; half a sowbug, all the juices sucked out; and something squarish that I can't identify. A beetle, maybe?
These spiders are difficult to identify. There are three similar species, and the rules for identification have changed. I think these are Eratigena agrestis, but then again ...
Years ago, they were called Tegenaria. Worried about the bad name some of them have, I wrote a post listing some of the differences between the species, here. But since then, they've been re-classified as Eratigena, an interesting name because it is an anagram of the letters of Tegenaria.
From BugGuide, on the Giant House spider, Eratigena duellica:
This spider (like its relatives T. domestica and E. agrestis) was imported from Europe into the ports of the Pacific Northwest. The first known N. American record was from Vancouver Island in 1929. It did not reach Seattle until 1960.
The greater European house spider (E. duellica) is not dangerous to people. Some people may be intimidated by their size as male legspans can reach 4 inches (100 mm). However, Rod Crawford has never known one to bite a human (though they certainly could if they tried); they are so docile he uses them as hands-on demonstrators for school children.
The Hobo Spider (E. agrestis) is often confused with this spider. If you are unsure of the exact species, just be mindful of this confusion, and use caution when dealing with the spider. (See E. agrestis for more information about the hobo spider).
The presence of giant house spiders is a deterrent to the establishment of hobo spiders indoors. It out-competes and displaces the hobo spider indoors and male giant house spiders often kill male hobo spiders (without necessarily eating them)!
So it's still wise to keep my distance from these spiders. Unless I can measure the legs; they look the same as the harmless giant, and are about the same size, except for those long legs. And if E. agrestis bites, it could be a bit of a problem.
This little guy's no problem at all:
|High on the wall, out of the hunter's range, a tiny yellow and tan spider, stopping for a rest. It's so far to where the girls are!|