Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A Two Pet Family

A week or so ago I was in the shower when I noticed a small spider on the window frame. Now although I don't have much of a spider phobia, I don't like having to clear up their webs, so tend to put them out when I come across them.

Accordingly, I knocked this one into my hand and dumped it unceremoniously out of the window. It was only about 10mm long, and my hand was wet, so it didn't run about too briskly. As you'd imagine, I didn't expect to see it again.

Some days later, bugger me, there was an identical (I suppose) spider, lurking on the ceiling. I knocked it into my hand and put it out of the window, but did register the fact that it might actually be the very same spider. No way of knowing, but an interesting coincidence if two identical spiders had taken up residence within such a short space of time.

Last weekend, who should I see, but my old friend the spider. She tried to escape this time, by dropping down on a long thread, but I was too clever for her, and out she went once more.

I did decide on that occasion, however, that if she made it back inside, she would have earned her place as a family pet, and could stay. This morning, there she was, so she's now officially the family pet spider. (Along with, I need hardly add, the two in the car door mirrors, of course!)

So the reason for the photos of arachnids is that our new guest is possibly a Steatoda species, though there are so many damn species of small dark spiders in the UK it would take a specialist to be sure.

The top two are both Steatoda species; the top one is called the Rabbit Hutch spider, though the second doesn't seem to have a common name.

The exception to the "put them out" rule applies to Pholcus (daddy long legs) spiders. These, being an alien invader, and far too fragile to put out manually, get vacuumed up. Cruel, I know, but no more than they deserve.

The only other thing I know about them is that they're more venomous than most native spiders, though their tiny jaws are too small to bite us succesfully. But I think they deal with Tegenaria etc because the big house spiders can't find anything to bite, while the nastily poisonous Pholcus have no difficulty finding a bit of Tegenaria to sink their jaws into.

They're slowly moving north through the UK, and I imagine haven't yet reached Yorks yet, since Arctic Fox posted a photo of a Tegenaria (I think) only the other day. I haven't seen one of those down our way for some years.


Sparx said...

We had a pet 'spider in the bath' for nearly a year once. Common garden spider, livedn in the air vent above the bath and made a web outside. Used to come inside and sometimes fall into the bath and get stuck, so I'd have to pick her up on some loo paper and put her back - after the first dozen times she was walking onto the paper voluntarily, so I guess spiders can learn something. That Christmas we went away for 2 weeks and our guests used the other bathroom. When I came home she had been in the bath so long she'd made a web in the tub. She was really weak and after putting her back into her vent I never saw her again... was quite fond of her too after all that time. Or him.

Rob Clack said...

Impressed about the spider voluntarily walking onto the loo paper. Wouldn't have expected that.