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Spiders... (includes a question for Pete). (snakes also.)

by Michael Calkins (Login MCalkins)
ASM Forum

Here in Texas, we have 2 basic types of dangerous spiders.

We have black widows (Latrodectus). They have a neurotoxin.

We also have several species of Loxosceles spiders, including brown recluses. They have a necrotoxin.

Today, I photographed a spider that I killed yesterday. I am quite convinced that it is a Loxosceles spider, but I am unsure what species.

from 0330121631.jpg to 0330121633a.jpg.

(By the way, in case anyone hasn't fully figured it out: I have a photo gallery script on my website, with the photos arranged into folders, mostly by year, and then subfolders by month. When you click a photo thumbnail, you're still in the gallery script, but it downloads the full sized photo, and displays it scaled down. If you click the photo again, it takes the browser directly to the photo, but the browser may still be scaling it. If so, in Firefox, you can click it again to see it full sized. you can also get folder listings from the HTTP server, but the gallery is more convenient.)

The violin shape is clearly visible, although the quality, focus, and magnification aren't quite good enough to examine the eyes. (Recluses are supposed to have 6 eyes, arranged in 3 groups of 2, as opposed to 8 eyes for most other spiders.)

I've seen other spiders previously that I believe were of the recluse family, but they were larger and darker. Only recently, have I researched them online carefully enough to feel confident identifying them.

I personally feel a strong aversion to recluse spiders. I would describe their appearance as very ugly.

Anyway, for Pete, or anyone else from California: When I search for information about recluse spiders, I keep finding information (including on the Wikipedia article) about how they are not in California. Um, okay... They're not in a lot of places... Why such a fuss about California? It makes me wonder if people there are paranoid...

and even a bit of a rant:

Huh? What gives? Either you have them or you don't. If you have them, be careful. If you don't, be glad. Why make such a fuss?

It does sound like you, as well as we, have other Loxosceles spiders other than the Reclusa. I'd personally consider any Loxosceles spider to be just as bad as a Brown Recluse. Supposedly, I am in the native range of the Texas Recluse, Loxosceles Devia, but I can't find much good information about it. The photos I find online look enough like what I think Reclusa should look like that I wonder if they're not actually Reclusa, which leaves me wondering what a Devia actually looks like. Maybe your California spider expert ought to write an article with good photos about the Devia, instead of spending so much time ranting about a "myth". :-)

I know of quite a few people who believe they have been bit by recluses. From what I hear, the bites can be very nasty.

I once had a black widow crawling on my arm while I was driving. It gave me a very major scare, but did not bite me. (I thoroughly panicked and flicked it off, then got out of the vehicle, but couldn't find it. (I think I was either on the ranch or a county road.))

So, to everyone: what kind of dangerous spiders do you have where you live?

When I see a spider, I usually try to make a point of trying to identify it as dangerous or not dangerous. I don't see much point in killing non-dangerous ones, as they might be competition, or even predators of the dangerous ones. For example, I consider jumping spiders to be very good, because they are not dangerous to humans, and they hunt other spiders.

Jumping spiders are the only spiders that I will hold in my hands. Other spiders, like garden spiders, still creep me out even though I know they are not dangerous.


While I'm on the subject of bad critters, I might as well bring up snakes.

Here in south Texas, to my knowledge, we have basically 4 types of poisonous snake: Rattlesnakes (especially Western diamondback), water moccasins, copperheads, and coral snakes.

All of those, except the coral snake, are pit vipers. Coral snakes, at least here, can be distinguished from non-dangerous snakes by the red touching the yellow. Coral snake bites are uncommon, because their fangs are short.

Rattlesnakes are common, are very good at camouflaging on the ground, and don't always rattle. I have had a number of close calls with them over the years.

Water moccasins, as the name suggests, prefer the water, and should be regarded as a danger in bodies of water. (along with alligators (yes we have those as well). Think about that next time you go skinny dipping. :-P)

Again, there is not much point in killing nonpoisonous snakes, as they provide competition for the poisonous ones.

To everyone: what kind of poisonous snakes do you have in your area?

(And yes, I have been, and will be for a little while, quite "distracted" from programming...)


This message has been edited by MCalkins on Mar 30, 2012 5:46 PM

Posted on Mar 30, 2012, 5:05 PM

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Response TitleAuthor and Date
We have 4 venomous snakes around here (NC)Dav on Apr 5
 * WHERE the **** are you? :-0Clippy on Apr 5
  Seems like a zoo sometimesDav on Apr 10
   Re: Seems like a zoo sometimesMichael Calkins on Apr 22
* I just found a recluse in my shower (after getting in and turning the water on).Michael Calkins on Apr 22

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