Posts Tagged 'spiders'


Aphonopelma chalcodesI think this is a male Arizona Desert Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes), also known as Arizona Blond Tarantula because of the female’s coloring. Our intrepid, and hawk-eyed, guide Jake swerved the van out of the way and then backed up to coax this spider onto his hand. And then, up his wrist.Aphonopelma chalcodesThe males wander over a wide range searching for females this time of year, usually at night. The reddish hairs on the abdomen are urticating, that is stinging, so no petting. The bite is no worse than a bee sting. But according to the American Tarantula Society (well, obviously!) the things are harmless. I hadn’t read that when Jake offered up a chance a to hold this guy. There were various “no thank yous,” from my van mates but I proffered my hand… cautiously, butAphonopelma chalcodes eagerly.


We interrupt this progression of posts on the faraway sublime to bring you a bit of sublime closer at home.

I was breaking down a head of broccoli and had gotten to the best part, the stem, which unfortunately was hollowed out by rot, when this one scootled across the chopping block for the cover of cleaver on its side. What the hell, I thought, good luck, spider. Later, though, it started up the wall and looked out of place so I captured it and released it into the Back 40.

Back to the great Southwest tomorrow.

Variations on Legs

fiddlerFiddler crabs in the tiny patch of ever-so-green right now salt marsh at Pier One. On the jumbly rocks next to it, a number of these spiders:spiderI have returned from a two week trip abroad. I have a new computer. I am ready to blog again.robinA young New World Robin, SO different from the Old World ones, as pictured yesterday.

Spring spider

Last week, on the first day of spring, a spider found itself in the tub.Parasteatoda tepidariorumAn American House Spider (I think), Parasteatoda tepidariorum. I got close with the camera and somehow brushed a line of silk, so that when I moved away, I inadvertently pulled the spider with me: it danced like a tiny puppet at the end of that invisible line. Sorry! And then I noticed, that being in a tub, which is designed to shed water, it was having some difficulty in getting out. So I used a small scallop shell, typical bathroom equipment in this house, to gently move it. As some of the guides noted, it played dead for a while but was soon on its way. Wherever it wanted to go.


Last month, I watched a spider feed heartily and then build a silken sac for her young. Two weeks ago, the young spiderlings emerged from the sac. And just sat there for several days. Then the mother spider disappeared. And a few days after that, all the little ones. In the outdoors, some young spiders disperse by ballooning, releasing threads of silk that catch the breeze. In our House of Spiders, they may to a little of this as well as motivate with their eight legs.

Drama in the corners

And in this corner, a click beetle, so named because they make a “click” when they flip up into the air (it helps them turn over should they find themselves belly-up) and a spider. The battle, such as it was, lasted for most of a day. I could hear the haunting click from a neighboring room. Then the spider, having won, started drinking, and that lasted for most of a day, too. And then some two days later:This egg case was clearly fueled by all that click beetle juice. I assume that’s the male on the left, typically smaller when it comes to spiders.

I have to say, spiders are not to be emulated as good housekeepers. Once they’ve drained their prey, they have a husk of an exoskeleton remaining (try some shrimp shell). So they discard it, in this case into corners, window sills, etc.

Mud Cells

Two summers ago, a Black and Yellow Mud Dauber wasp built her nest in the Back 40 (inches). A new generation of these large, black-bodied wasps with yellow legs emerged in June of last year. This year I had one inside the house. Not here in Brooklyn, but at the family house in Massachusetts. This wasp was building her nest in the front door frame, between the screen and house doors. The screen door of the old manse is sagging, so there’s a gap at the top, which allowed her access.As the name mud-dauber suggests, these wasps build their nests out of mud, individual cells first, then a surrounding stucco of mud around the cluster of cells. Here she was just starting out. One of the inch-long cells had been sealed, the other was still open and unfilled.Inside each cell, the wasp lays an egg atop the provisions she has brought for the larva-to-come. The young eat paralyzed spiders.I shooed the wasp out of the house half a dozen times before I found the location of the developing nest. Regretfully, I broke it up and found these four spiders in the sealed cell. But then a couple of days later, in the same door frame, clearly an excellent location — water is dried mud’s worst enemy — another cell appeared. It’s darker on the left hand side of the cell because the mud there is still wet.This one had thirteen spiders crammed into it.There are several different species of orb-weavers here. The abdomen certainly do look meaty.Really sorry I had to break up the housekeeping here, considering the huge amount of work this one wasp had to do. She carried bit after bit of mud — it’s been dry on the island too, but I’m guessing the construction site next door might have been a source — and hunted down the spiders on her own. Like a lot of adult predatory wasps, she herself is a vegetarian, supping on nectar. Meanwhile, there are cleptoparasitic wasps who like to avail themselves of the provisioning the Black and Yellow wasp does. Endlessly fascinating is the natural world.


Underneath the bathroom faucet: a small, pale spider.

Arthropods of St. John Part I

An antennae-span of nearly three inches to greet the early risers.When this moth flew into the veranda, everyone thought it was a bat with it’s 4-inch wingspan.Katydids, part of the night chorus, could usually be found lazing around during the day. This one was caught in a brief rain shower.Saw the same species on Virgin Gorda last year.Paper wasps known locally as Jack Spaniards (perhaps because they can be stinging annoyances), nesting under a Tyre Palm, the only native palm species left on the island. The wasps were to be found under many a leaf. Open this image up to get a closer look at their smoky, mahogany-colored wings. This spider, with its ornate spiny abdomen, has some prey in its silky clutches.18 degrees north of the Equator, things will have a tendency wander into your bathroom and just die there. Several species of scorpion are found on the island. About four inches long, these big African millipedes, known locally as gongolo, originated in Madagascar and probably came over during the slave trade. Will spray a nasty cocktail at you if they don’t like you, evidently, but I’m pretty lovable and thus remained unscathed.

Orbweaver Requiem

I returned to the house Sunday afternoon to find Saturday’s spider on the floor. A single silk line connected my desk chair to the desk.

Brooklyn Invertebrate CSI: The rear of the abdomen looks deflated, while the front is grotesquely distended. Parasite? Disease?


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