Household Helper

As you know, I always have a story for getting into odd things. So about last night…

I sat down on the toilet and went to rest my arms on my thighs when a sharp shooting pain went into my elbow.  OW! It felt like I’d been stung. I swiped at my elbow and something came off! I didn’t have my glasses on so I didn’t see what went flying, but we’ve been having warm spells and I wondered if a small bee, like a sweat bee, got into the house. It burned for a little while and I got a little red bump.

Later, I watched my cat Rose patting at something on the rug, but it didn’t move so she left.  And right after she left, I watched a small spider scurry across the floor to my linen closet.  I have watched this scenario many times. But not right after being ‘stung’.  Hmmm, I thought, these spiders are common in houses and I’ve never had any trouble with them, but could they bite hard enough to hurt?

Meet Cheiracanthium mildei, otherwise know as the Yellow Sac Spider, Yellow House Spider, or Black Footed Spider.

This little, most probably, lady is sitting on a clip-on fan in my bathroom. To give you an idea of size, the space she is sitting in is 3/8’s of an inch.

These little spiders normally live outside in your trees, bushes, garden, and leaf piles.  But come winter, if they can find some place nice and warm (your house), they’ll move in and set up shop.  C. mildei hunt by sight and eat other spiders bigger than they are, insects, and their eggs. Very handy if you have gnats living in your houseplants or silverfish in your closets!

Those little cocoons you see them living in up along the edges and corners of your ceilings are made fresh every dawn (they prefer to hunt at night) and take about 10 minutes to make.

These guys normally mate once in summer and the female can produce up to 5 egg sacs with about 40 eggs in each sac.  Outside they overwinter as spiderlings. Unless, of course, they make it inside your house where they can keep growing!

Side view. She didn’t even run away when I got within an inch of her to take the pic.

And can they bite?  Yep!  These guys will bite if provoked and in self-defense.  Like when I nearly squished her. 🙂  The symptoms are similar to a bee sting.  I was bump free and healed in a day, but if your are sensitive to the venom it could take several days. And, no, you won’t die!

On a personal note, I think these little spiders ‘learn’ from their environment.  This lady doesn’t consider me a threat and goes about her business as though I weren’t there.  Let Rose, my bug eating maniac, show up and she pulls her legs up against her body and refuses to move even when Rose pats her with a paw and huffs at her. And she waits to move until Rose hits the bathroom door. Interesting, too, is the fact that Rose won’t eat this spider as she does all the others.  I’m guessing she got a nasty surprise at one point! 🙂

If want to read more, I really enjoyed the articles at these sites : spiderbytes  and Arthropod Ecology.

In the meantime I’ll be checking the toilet paper roll and hand towels to make sure she doesn’t land on me again! 😀

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