Spider with egg sac
We have many of these cellar spiders in our house—too many, in fact. I feel that it’s partly my fault because I don’t like to kill them. I will catch and release spiders outside but more often than not I just let them be. Which means they’re left to multiply and build more messy webs. The other morning I found two in our kitchen and one had an object that didn’t look like a meal. I was getting ready for work so considered just leaving them alone, but I was fascinated by the object and thought it might be an egg sack. Ooooh! I’d love to photograph that. Long story short (errrr… sort of) I did pull out my camera, macro lens, flash and a large corning ware dish. I caught each spider and put the female in the dish. They can climb walls and many things, but have trouble with glass and ceramic. The white casserole dish made a decent photo studio and kept her in one place.
Close up of spider and egg sac
She was holding onto an egg sack and here are some pictures. I thought the pattern on the eggs was really something; they were certainly not what I’d expected. In many ways, these are uninteresting spiders. They don’t have much color, are extremely common, and leave their messy webs everywhere. As is often the case, however, there can be something interesting when you look very closely.
Female and male cellar spiders
The second was definitely a male, possibly her mate although she wasn’t particularly interested in him. She seemed pretty upset to be in the dish. After I snapped several shots I released them both outside.
Spider in Shoe
It doesn’t take the spiders very long to make themselves at home! This morning when I went to grab my old tennies (worn the day before) I found a cellar spider had already decided my shoe was the perfect place to live. He/she was hanging out on a fine web inside my shoe. I had just taken the shoes off about 8 hours earlier.
It makes me wonder how a spider decides a certain place is the right spot for a web. We often see them wandering from one place to another, so how do they know it’s time to settle down?
We just got back from a week out of town. This morning I opened the cupboard to get the peanut butter jar and surprised a nice little brown spider who had made her home inside. She also startled me a bit, but only because I wasn’t expecting to find something moving inside the cupboard. I tried to catch her (to release outside) but failed. No big deal. I just cleaned up some of the web mess and let her be. I’ll probably find her and more web mess again in a few days. When I got into my car last night (after more than a week of it sitting idle) I also had to wipe away a few strands of web from the steering wheel and mirror. I’m sure they’d take over the world if humans weren’t around!
I used to be very, very afraid of spiders, but no longer am. I credit my weeks with Gabriella for desensitizing me to them. Gabriella was a garden spider (or araneus diadematus) that made her home just outside our front door late summer in 2006. Since I was taking a break from work at the time, I had the opportunity to observe and photograph her for several weeks. It was a wonderful experience, not just for the photographs I got from it, but also for the chance to learn so much about spiders. Even better, I later discovered that I no longer had that paralyzing fear of spiders that I’d always had and hated.
Gabriella, a garden spider.
That shot of Gabriella shows her in October with a recent catch, a bee. She had grown considerably from the time I first found her in late August. I love the design on her back. One day I found her hanging from her recently sloughed off exoskeleton. I didn’t realize what I was looking at until my son filled me in. She had molted and was “stretching” out her new “skin” as it dried. Fascinating! And, yes, she’s a she. The males are much smaller. I did see a male about 20 feet away one day (see below). They don’t build the orb webs like the females, who have to eat a lot to grow and produce eggs. I hoped he’d find her. I also hoped that I’d get to see her egg sack, but I never did. She had moved to a different bush and then the rains came and I lost track of her. The next spring I found more garden spiders, though, so I like to think they were her offspring. 🙂
Male garden spider