Toad in the Hole

April 05, 2006

Spider Surprise


A few days ago we hung some new curtains in the kitchen. Evidently we disturbed a spider who'd come in from outside. I noticed it going up the wall above the window, fairly sturdy, husky outdoor-looking dark spider.

We have long-bodied cellar spiders in the house, and we more or less cultivate them. They're pretty harmless; I pick one up by the leg sometimes, if it's trapped in the bathtub for example, and move it to a plant where it can eat the bugs. If you disturb them on their webs, they'll do this hilarious spinning routine, which I suppose makes predators dizzy. They're so delicate and innocent-looking that an arachnophobic friend of ours dismisses tham as "those airs-and-graces spiders you have."

There was one in the ceiling corner -- which is where they generally hang out, another reason we don't bother them -- and my first thought was, "Uh-oh. That black bruiser's gonna eat one of our spiders."

Well. What happened instead: The cellar spider came to attention and ran to pounce on the intruder. It was like watching a whippet take on a Rottweiler. Only the whippet won.

It grabbed the husky spider and, from what we coould see, immediately started wrapping it up in webbing. If it bit, it was too fast to see. Evidently too fast to cope with, too. Inside of a minute, the outsider was snared and apparently helpless. It wrapped the outsider up in a neat bundle and, when I looked in half an hour later, seemed to be eating it.

I still don't worry about getting bitten by the cellar spiders, but I have a bit more respect for them as predators.

Posted at April 5, 2006 06:06 AM


Spiders don't bother me too much but the long-legged ones kinda give me the heebie-jeebies. Everybody else thinks the "granddaddy long legs" are harmless, and I guess they are, but... I don't want to touch them. :)

Posted by: Rurality at April 5, 2006 02:20 PM

There's a superstition in some places that (g)DDLs are very venomous, it's just that their jaws are too small to bite us. The jaws are that small, but they're not venomous. Some might poison you if taken internally in sufficient quantity, I suppose, because they have defensive chemicals.

We have teeny ones in the hills here, and they're endangered by development and the fact that they have small ranges.

Cut 'n' paste; the machine's not letting me post a link:

(That's my Joe.)

Posted by: Ron at April 5, 2006 04:43 PM

we have tons of those long-legged spiders around the house. i don't like seeing them much, but they keep to themselves and eat bugs, and i'm not winning the good housekeeping award for clearing spiderwebs, so you could say we mostly co-exist.

cool article by joe!

Posted by: kathy a at April 6, 2006 06:26 AM

Nice article... makes you wonder how they ever discover tiny things like this in the first place. And now I know why they call them harvestmen!

Posted by: Rurality at April 8, 2006 02:48 AM

Yeah, I have tons of those too. They don't bother me except that they're very industrious web builders, so I'm always (well, about once every 2 or 3 months) forced to go about the house with a broom wrapped in a rag and sweep the cobwebs down.

My hands-down fav spider is the jumping spider. Cute--really cute--and non-threatening. Plus I saw one in Texas jump a foot onto a cockroach and annihilate it.

Posted by: kactus at April 13, 2006 07:51 PM

kactus, here's a URL for jumping spider courtship dances (if it still works):

and here's a column about them :

Software isn't letting me make links in the comments here, so you'll have to cut 'n' paste; sorry. Damn software.

They _are_ cool!

Posted by: Ron at April 13, 2006 09:48 PM