This post includes spider pictures. If these images are going to haunt you for the rest of the day or give you nightmares, you may want to skip this post!
OK, so I really don't have a big dislike for spiders. They're kind of cool, actually. When one comes inside out house for a visit, I calmly escort him or her to the door. Smaller spiders who choose to take u residence right inside the door, or near a hole in a screen are welcome to stay. They must follow two rules, though, or they will be evicted: 1) No making baby spiders inside, and 2) Stay in your designated area. My reason for this is simple - I don't want to get bit and I certainly don't want the kids to get bit. Most of the spiders around here are harmless, leaving just an itchy bite similar to a ginormous mosquito bite. I just don't want the trouble, you know?
Since our house is next to a large wooded area, we welcome the spiders that reside on our back porch. Hubby and I like to sit out there at night, but mosquitoes can be terrible around here in the summertime. BUT, we now have a very large and established colony of spiders out there now. They weave webs that essentially act as screens for our porch, catching all of the most annoying insects. I swear, I have had maybe 5 skeeter bites from sitting out there all summer!
Every once in a while, we run across a species of spider that is just plain different. Usually, its the shape of its body or its coloring. Every once in a while, it's the size. And, here is why I'm writing this post:
As I approach the stroller, I jumped. I really wasn't expecting this! Now hubby's laughing at me. So, what do I do? Yep, run up the driveway, pushing this spider toward hubby. I got a couple of inches from him and stopped. Spidey didn't. LMAO! I SO wish we had security cameras - I'd pay good money for a video of what happened next. Somehow, this spider bounced out of the stroller and... right - into hubby's hair. He's got long hair. It wasn't in a ponytail. He FREAKED OUT! This man was dancing around on the patio, shrieking, "GET IT OFF ME! GET IT OFF ME!" I'm on the ground laughing. I literally peed myself a little! You see, the spider hit him on the top of the head and bounced off. It was laying a good 10 feet away from him while he did his heebie-jeebie dance. Well, maybe you had to be there. It was a great show!
After closer inspection (and some clean panties!), I ruled that the spider was dead. So, hubby, trying to recoup some of his manliness, picks it up and chases my stepson around the yard with it. He plays puppet show with it. He examines it. Now, I had only looked at the thing for a minute or so. When he finally gives it to me for my turn, I realize that the big white thing it's holding onto isn't a craft pom-pom. I don't know why I even thought that in the first place - spiders don't craft in their downtime, do they??? Yep - eggs. That's when I begin to suspect that it's possible that this spider might even still be alive. I don't know much about them or their behaviors. I quietly set the thing down and go upstairs for a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Over my shoulder, I tell my husband to not touch his little friend anymore and to keep an eye on it in case it moves. He turned three shades of pale!
So, here are some photos. I need to know if this spider is still alive. Look at the first photo, above, closely. See how the eye is reflecting the light from the camera flash? I think it might be. If it is, where can I put it so I don't kill it, but the eggs don't hatch near our house? This species is just too big for me to be comfortable with around the kids and the cat. Some of the pics are a little blurry, but I want to show you the size and coloring. Any help would be appreciated!
Do You Know Me?
Through the link that Momma Jorje gave me to Bug Guide, I was able to upload an image and here is the first response I received from Eric R. Eaton:
"This is a female fishing spider, Dolomedes tenebrosus. She'll carry that egg sac around with her using her jaws and pedipalps. Eventually, when the spiderlings are about to emerge, she'll suspend the sac in a "nursery web" she spins in dense vegetation. She'll then guard the sac, and the spiderlings that emerge from it. After the spiderlings molt again, they will disperse and mom will be free to resume hunting large insects. Normally, fishing spiders are ambush hunters that lie in wait for inattentive prey to blunder within striking distance. Look for fishing spiders mostly on vertical surfaces such as tree trunks, fenceposts, and walls. Wolf spiders, with which fishing spiders are often confused, *can* climb, but are most often seen on the ground."
I asked him a few more questions (like is this thing still alicve?!) and am anxiously awaiting his reply! Eric is a natural history writer and illustrator and the primary author of Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. He also has a blog: Bug Eric