Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Dog Days Spider Fest #6
The 5-year old neighbor boy brings in the trash bins every Thursday after the trash guys empty them. Like a lot of kids his age, he's interested in big trucks and small bugs. Due to his short stature he has a different angle of view to his surroundings: he showed me some things under the rim of the green waste bin, and wanted to know what they were. There are a mess of them (seven in one cluster, two in another). They look like burs, are all tangled in sticky strong web, and a few had tiny holes in them. Well, I said, they sure look like spider egg sacs. But, which kind of spider?
A brief search for "spiky spider egg sac" revealed that this type of sac is diagnostic for the brown widow spider, Latrodectus geometricus, a spider of medical importance closely related to the also reclusive, also venomous Black Widow. Yikes. So of course after finding that out, I had a look for the mother spider and sure enough she was there right under the rim of the trash bin about three inches from where one (such as a certain 5-year old boy) would put one's hand to move the bin. I didn't think prodding the spider out of her lair was necessarily in my best interest, so I settled for this kind of natural, obscured, out of focus shot; here is a better look. There is some color variability in these spiders and it looks like the one on my trash bin is on the darker side of brown. Anyway, we removed the spider from the bin in the interest of safety, and repeated to the neighbor boy that any spiders can be dangerous and to never touch or annoy them. Another neighbor was chatting out in the street remarked he has lots of those in his yard; so, we mentioned again that the Brown Widow bite is painful and will require medical attention.
Many of the egg sacs had exit holes, which are made by the young spiders when they are ready to go out into the world. 9 egg sacs x oh, say 100 or so eggs each = one heck of a lot of brown widow spiders. Apparently this is typical production for a mother brown widow, so you have to wonder: Where have they all creeped off to?