Spider Identification, please?
April 19, 2005 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Here are two pictures of a kind of rather large (1" long body), nasty spider that I'm finding all over my apartment [scary pictures warning]. Please help me identify it.

Geographic info: I'm in the woods in Maine, not far from the coast. I know they say there are something like a million spiders for every square mile on earth, but I think we've got at least that many just in the garage. I want to know my enemy better, so any help would be appreciated.
posted by Civil_Disobedient to Home & Garden (28 answers total)
Gah! Move immediately!!!
posted by jeanmari at 7:15 AM on April 19, 2005

Do you have any other info? How big are the spiders? What do they eat? Do they spin webs? What kind?
posted by jdroth at 7:27 AM on April 19, 2005

I think it's some sort of wolf spider, we have them around here too. More scary looking than dangerous, though they do have painful bites and the forest variant can cause some tissue damage. Things to look for are general hairiness, lack of webs [if they make funnel shaped webs they're definitely something else] and the stripey patternon the back.
posted by jessamyn at 7:32 AM on April 19, 2005

Looks like a wolf spider. Its bite is poisonous but not lethal. Don't mess with it directly and don't leave any clothes on the floor to lower your chances of coming in contact with it.

The only really dangerous spiders in the US are the Brown Recluse and the Black Widow, neither of which are native to Maine (reference). Here's a spider identification chart, though it may be more frightening than comforting.
posted by Jeff Howard at 7:32 AM on April 19, 2005

If you get bitten, or your children get bitten, look for bruising around the bite. If you start to bruise in circular patterns, get thee to a medic, as you're probably having an allergic reaction.

My son had this when he was six. Apparently, spiders crawled off a tree outside his window, through the sill, and into his bed sheets. He'd wak?V? in the morning with red marks up and down his arm.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:35 AM on April 19, 2005

The largest one I've seen so far had a 1.25" long body (from head to thorax, not including legs). They're fast fuckers, too. They hang out under things, not in webs, though I have seen the occasional whispy strands of webbing here and there. But nothing in comparison to the sheer numbers of these bastards. Also, my garage is filled to the brim with egg sacs. I could take some shots of those, if it might help.

I was thinking of vacuuming up the egg sacs in a large canister vac that I've got in the garage, then spraying some raid in the vacuum cleaner. I'm not sure how effective this will be, however.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:35 AM on April 19, 2005

Another vote for wolf spider.

This info sheet has good advice on what to do if spideys freak you out.
posted by naomi at 7:38 AM on April 19, 2005

My brother is deathly afraid of spiders. He calls them "creepy-ass" things. Normally they don't bother me, but after leafing through the entirety of my wife's spider identification book, I'm inclined to agree. Ugh! I'm kind of freaked out.

After looking at 254 pages of spiders, it's difficult to tell you what kind you have without knowing more about it. However, based on what I read, it's unlikely that what you have is dangerous in any way. In fact, they're probably beneficial. And creepy.

(Also, I don't think this is any sort of Wolf Spider. Take a look at this photo of a Wolf Spider. The markings are wrong, according to my little book. Also, there don't seem to be many Wolf Spiders in Maine.)

That being said, they may be Yard Spiders (tegenaria agrestis), about which my book says: "A mottled, grey-brown spider, greenish in certain light. It is a European species which has spread tot he Pacific NW of the USA where it has become known for its aggressiveness; curiously it bites humans more frequently there than it does in Europe. In Europe it builds its sheet-web in wasteland whereas in N America it is found typically in backyards and buildings..." Females are up to 15mm, males to 10mm. Now, since you're in Maine and not the Pacific NW, this isn't a likely candidate, I admit.

So, the most likely candidates seem to be Cobweb Spiders (tegenaria gigantea): "A very common sheet-weaver which, perhaps more than any other species of spider, is responsible for arachnophobia. In the home, this species is familiar as the grey-brown, leggy spider which runs quickly and gets trapped in baths. Usually this is the male who abandons his web-building to search for a mate. He often lives with the female for some weeks but then dies and she eats him." They create webs that are "an untidy sheet or cobweb with funnel shaped retreat". They live in buildings, hollow trees, caves, and under debris.

I think your best bet is to follow the Spider ID link above, or to get a spider book. I've always found its easier to compare up-close-and-personal with the beasts...

(Those are great spider photos, by the way. They're certainly more detailed than those in my little spider book.)
posted by jdroth at 7:47 AM on April 19, 2005

That spider idenification chart Jeff Howard links to is terrifying. Who on earth thought it a good idea to make the images move? I've just annoyed all the other people in the lab by crying out in shock!
posted by handee at 7:55 AM on April 19, 2005

(in case anyone isn't sure about metric, 1 mm = 1/10 cm, and 2.54cm=inch.)
posted by raedyn at 7:59 AM on April 19, 2005

Wolf spiders aren't very common in the U.S., and mine's not as hairy, nor as grey. I'm starting to think it's a European House Spider, which is a bit of a relief. Only a small bit. Any other ideas/thoughts are more than welcome.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:12 AM on April 19, 2005

wow, those pictures you took are great. But I have an odd sort of fondness for spiders.
The google images for "wolf spider" seem to show like 10 different kinds of arachnids, though. I'd trust a book or official site more than collective, unendorsed claims.
My only advice is to rent (or find on cable) the Disney movie "Arachnophobia", to remind yourself it could be worse! (it's a fun movie, not overly scary)
posted by mdn at 8:33 AM on April 19, 2005

You're here in Maine, C_D? I've seen ticks that size here. And mosquitoes are the size of a small Cessna ;)

But seriously, you might want to drop these guys an email with the picture.
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:48 AM on April 19, 2005

Is it just me, or does spraying a flammable product inside an electrical product raise some sort of Potential Roof-Blowing Explosion flag?
posted by user92371 at 8:55 AM on April 19, 2005

Definately not a wolf spider; it's not nearly big (or thick) enough. It looks like a common brown spider or some type of funnel web (common house spiders) neither of which are toxic to humans unless you are alergic.
posted by benightedly_heedful at 9:09 AM on April 19, 2005

If you do decide to user bug spray on the egg sacs, make sure that the bug spray says it kills spiders. Not all of them do. I had some Raid that I sprayed all over this black spider one time and it just made it mad. After 10 minutes, it was still moving around with no problems.
posted by redteam at 9:30 AM on April 19, 2005

Bug spray that isn't spider-specific can help if you empty enough of the can on the insect. If that won't work, find anything else handy (shower cleaner, dog shampoo) to immobilize the damned thing before flattening it with a shoe.

I am going to shiver, shriek like a little girl, and leave this thread now. Best of luck, Civil_Disobedient!
posted by cmyk at 9:47 AM on April 19, 2005

I can't believe I was dumb enough to read this thread. I'm so icked-out just from the descriptions that I'm having difficulty keeping my feet on the floor. Mmmmauuuuuh!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:01 AM on April 19, 2005

does spraying a flammable product inside an electrical product raise some sort of Potential Roof-Blowing Explosion flag?

Hmm. Well, I'd be spraying it in the intake nozzle, and the containment area is pretty air-tight (it'd have to be to maintain a vacuum), but that's a good point. It's just a lot less messy then manually paper-toweling each and every egg sac (there are hundreds).

I've seen ticks that size here. And mosquitoes are the size of a small Cessna

Yeah, I had forgotten all about the ticks. Thanks a bunch. Now I'm never leaving my apartment. I'll try emailing the shots to the folks at Colby and see what they have to say.

I'm currently sitting in my study looking out my window to about a dozen wasps, too. This place is just chock-full of wildlife of the greater-than-four-legs variety. Thanks for all the suggestions!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:22 AM on April 19, 2005

Sorry if this is excessively obvious, but it couldn't hurt to call an exterminator. You should get some decent advice even if there is nothing else they can do for you. BTW I am definitely no expert but I've seen plenty of European house spiders and I reckon that's what you've got. Hobo spiders look very similar but it seems that they are not in your part of the US. But call a pro!
posted by teleskiving at 10:25 AM on April 19, 2005

I'm not skeeved out by the spider pics or description, but hundreds of egg sacs? Gah!

I wouldn't recommend spraying anything toxic in your vacuum cleaner. You'd be breathing it from the vacuum's exhaust, and the smell would linger.

It really, really is time to call an exterminator.
posted by Specklet at 10:46 AM on April 19, 2005

It's a common garden spider. Spiders are a good thing to have, you just don't want them in your bed. I'd bite if you rolled over on me, so would a spider.

You mention you have a vacuum; clean it thoroughly. If you find a spider, put a glass over it then put it outside.

An exterminator would be *cough* over-kill. Spiders don't hang around frequently cleaned areas.

This is my style of coping with insects; if you're phobic, then i guess you'll hire someone.
posted by reflecked at 12:05 PM on April 19, 2005

Nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by Guy Smiley at 12:12 PM on April 19, 2005

second the nuking...heh.

I was the household spider remover in my house growing up in rural missouri, and i remember spiders like these refered to as Wolf Spiders...doesn't mean it was right, but regardless the spiders you have are most likely harmless.
posted by schyler523 at 3:24 PM on April 19, 2005

If bug spray does not work, try some hair spray - freezes the bug solid :)
posted by Arthur Dent at 5:02 PM on April 19, 2005

Time for a banana-spider milkshake party!
posted by Wet Spot at 6:44 PM on April 19, 2005

It's definitely not a wolf spider. It's almost certainly Tegeneria or the Hobo spider. I dont know which species, but I'd advise you to catch one (if you have lots of them. Use a plastic box, and trap it. Slide a sheet of paper under the spider and there you go) and take it to the nearest arachnologist for proper id. While Tegeneria bites are not known to be fatal, it may cause an allergic type reaction. Anyway, there seems to be some concern about one species, Tegeneria agrestis, so I suggest you get it properly identified. Here's a good site about them.

or what jdroth said. :)

one spider related question and somebody beats me to it. Ps, I study spiders :)
posted by dhruva at 8:19 PM on April 19, 2005

dhruva -- Perhaps it's the tiny optimist inside me speaking, but I don't think it's a Hobo because the abdomen is completely different, there's far less cilia, and they're not native to the area. But I will definately look into getting it properly identified. Thank you all for your help!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:46 AM on April 20, 2005

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