Tag Archives: spiders

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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Neoscona Crucifera Rides Again

I don’t want Fall to come.  It’s too soon.  I have too much yet to do!  But a harbinger of Fall showed up in my window, Neoscona Crucifera.  Last year I wrote about the life of Neoscona Crucifera  here.

There she is sleeping in a corner on the inside of my window.

There she is sleeping in a corner on the inside of my window! (My windows crank out away from the house with the screens on the inside of the house.  Who thought of this? It’s insane. )

So I checked Almanac.com and found out that in June we were getting 15 hours and 2 minutes of daylight.  The sun was coming up at 5:50 am and setting at 8:53 pm.  Now we’re getting only 13 hours and 8 minutes of daylight.  The sun isn’t coming up till 6:47 am and is setting at 7:56 pm.  And we’re going to lose another hour and half in September!  *sigh*

But Neoscona Crucifera cares for none of this.  Time is counting down for her. So that night I opened my window and waited.  She did not disappoint.

I was very lucky on the angle of this web.  You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to take a picture of a spider web at night!

I was very lucky on the angle of this web. You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to take a picture of a spider web at night!

There is the top of The Husband's head to give you an idea of how large the web is.

There is the top of The Husband’s head to give you an idea of how large the web is.

Isn't she beautiful?

Isn’t she beautiful?

Later she had a suitor come calling and there was much waving of legs. I couldn't get a clear picture of both of them together.  The little guy is the suitor.

Later she had a suitor come calling and there was much waving of legs. I couldn’t get a clear picture of both of them together. The little guy is the suitor.

Unfortunately, the weather turned cold.  48 degrees at night!  Way to cold for me, so I was forced to close up the house.  Knowing how important food is for her at this time of year, I was forced to dislodge her from her cosy window perch.  I scooped her out of the corner (she was highly displeased) and put her outside on the window sill.  She scrambled for cover immediately.  Later that night I looked out the window.  She was not to be deterred!

There she is!  Hanging out on the outside of the window!

There she is! Hanging out on the outside of the window!

So like it or not, Fall is on its way.

Yep, It’s Fall (Unfortunately) – Meet Neoscona Crucifera

As you know, I got sideswiped by circumstances last May and it threw my whole summer.  And now Fall has made itself known.  I am not a fan of Fall on a good year and this is not a good year.  It means Winter is coming.  My least favorite of the seasons since it is one long season of torture for me.  Constant, never-ending cold.  On top of that I lost my summer.  I am not yet ready for Fall.  Anger and resistance abound.  “Life” and Mother Nature do not care.  They keep to their cycles and move forward with or without you.

It is now dark right after dinner.  No more long after dinner work sessions outside.  It is dark when the Husband leaves for work in the morning.  According to www.almanac.com our day is now only 11 hours and 46 minutes long.  And the leaves are beginning to turn.  *Sigh*

If that were not enough, the bane of my fall window cleaning has shown herself.  Neoscona Crucifera.

Common Name? - Neoscona crucifera This is a picture from http://bugguide.net/node/view/28154/bgimage?from=24  a really cool website for identifying bugs of all kinds.

Normally when it comes to spiders, I am a live-and-let-live kinda person.  I usually catch them and throw them outside when I find them in the house.  I enjoy viewing their webs, which are masterpieces of construction.  And they eat bugs.  A very good thing.  But every year I have complained about those damn spiders that show up every fall and hang around my windows.   They can build huge webs up to 2 feet across.  I didn’t want to be scrubbing away and get bitten.  One year they were so bad I had my husband take the hose and go all around the house blasting them down.  This year, however, will be different for me.

Yesterday, early evening, my husband called me outside.  And showed me this:

There she was, between two electic lines coming into our house.  The specks are bug remains.

There she was, between two electric lines coming into our house. The specks are bug remains.

I realized that I had never bothered to identify this spider.  Or learn about it.  Why, for example, did I only ever see this spider in the fall?  And why on earth always around my windows?

Neoscona Crucifera is a Orbweaver who normally builds her web at night.  Frequently she uses windows and porches as support for her web to take advantage of the bugs coming into the light.  As morning approaches, she eats her web and any remaining bugs she has caught and then retreats to a place of safety so that she does not become a meal for someone else.  Young Neoscona Cruciferas are a favorite of the Pipe Organ Wasp.

The spiderlings hatch in the spring after overwintering in the egg sac.  Some make silk ‘balloons’ and float away.  Many stay in the area near where they hatch.  The spiders reach maturity in the middle to late summer.  The males lose the ability to make webs and spend their time looking for mature females to mate with.

As fall approaches the females begin egg production.  As you might guess, this requires an enormous amount of energy.  The female must keep herself well fed.  But with the approach of fall comes cooler nights and less nighttime bug activity.  So the female spiders begin to leave their webs up during the daylight hours to catch the necessary amount of food.  Which is why I only find them hanging out around my windows in the fall.

Waiting patiently.

Waiting patiently.

Also of interest is the fact that Neoscona Crucifera is not a danger to us humans.  She would rather run or curl up in a ball than fight.  And if I was stupid enough to poke my finger right up into her face and she did bite me, she isn’t poisonous to us humans.  Oh, that isn’t to say getting bitten wouldn’t be painful.  But she won’t send me to the hospital.  I feel kinda bad now about blasting those ladies out of my windows.  This year I’ll have more respect and less fear.  Knowledge is a wonderful thing.

I had hoped for a better daylight picture, but she had eaten her web.  That little bump is her waiting out the day.  Her web tonight is glorious, but it wouldn't show up in the camera flash.  Maybe we'll get lucky and it'll will still be there in the morning.

I had hoped for a better daylight picture, but she had eaten her web. That little bump is her waiting out the day. Her web tonight is glorious, but it wouldn’t show up in the camera flash. Maybe we’ll get lucky and it will still be there in the morning.