What is this terrible spider
June 11, 2014 9:27 AM   Subscribe

My husband just sent me a picture of a spider he found in our kitchen today. Can anyone identify what it is and how high I should calibrate my level of terror (which is currently extremely, very high)? Here is photo of the terrible creature. Beyond identifying, should I be very alarmed about the possibility it may have laid eggs somewhere in our house? We live in Massachusetts, so I am guessing it hitchhiked in on bananas or something. To that point, I bought bananas on Sunday (and usually do a good check in the store for this very reason), and I did take said bananas down from their hanging perch this morning and discarded two that seemed to be rotting from the bottom (bottoms had turned brown). I am now imagining that our trash can is full of terrifying spiders. Help me, Metafilter!
posted by banjo_and_the_pork to Pets & Animals (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry if this is a stupid question - but, what leads you to believe that it came in on the bananas? I mean, if I was in my kitchen and I saw that spider (I'm in Michigan), I would think, "Oh, a spider! That came from the crawl space or the attic or the outside world which is full of billions of spiders.."

Is there some characteristic about the spider that leads you to believe it is non-native? It looks like a pretty generic spider to me.
posted by kbanas at 9:31 AM on June 11, 2014

I live in Massachusetts and I've seen spiders like this, or bigger, in and around my house before. It doesn't look like anything to worry about.

Level of terror should pretty much be "that's a helpful spider who is keeping terrifying insects out of my house."
posted by jozxyqk at 9:35 AM on June 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

That looks a lot like a jumping spider, although I'm no arachnologist. If so, they're not only harmless, they're cute.
posted by Coatlicue at 9:36 AM on June 11, 2014 [7 favorites]

It looks gigantic and furry and absolutely terrifying to me. But I have a pretty extreme phobia of spiders. I also have a (possibly ungrounded in reality) assumption that tropical spiders sneak into unsuspecting homes via bananas frequently. But I would love to be proven wrong on all accounts! We have a lot of daddylonglegs kinds of spiders in our house, but I have never seen anything like this creature inside before. Our house is also quite old and I'm sure it could have wandered in from outside via many nooks and crannies.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 9:37 AM on June 11, 2014

looks like an ordinary black jumping spider to me too. I live in New England too, I see them occasionally, usually on the ceiling.
posted by Abinadab at 9:40 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

(This may be silly and perhaps you've already done it, but I'm arachnophobic too and know that can mess with perceptions.) Look at the screw in the photo--unless that's a truly huge screw, that is a totally normal-sized little spider that happens to look scary because of the way the photos was taken. I've seen these guys around before and wouldn't worry about them, as they tend to be scared of humans.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 9:42 AM on June 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

It doesn't look gigantic to me-it's the same size as that screw head.
It looks like a normal jumping spider. Here's a video of some guy handling one, just because.

Threat level: minimum
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:42 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a pretty extreme phobia of spiders.

Then, with respect, your husband should not be sending you photos of spiders when you are at work. This is a normal-ish spider, probably lives in a wall or crawl space and keeps your house free of worse bugs.
posted by jessamyn at 9:42 AM on June 11, 2014 [55 favorites]

OK, I know it looks gigantic to you, but from looking at your picture, it seems to be the same size as the *screw* in your *window latch.* In other words, extremely very quite tiny.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:43 AM on June 11, 2014

It looks gigantic and furry and absolutely terrifying to me.

It might be an issue of scale! Based on that photo, as other people have said, it looks kind of like a jumping spider, and and also looks like it's about the size of a dime or penny - but, I can certainly see how you might look at it through the eyes of an arachnophobe and see it as being way larger and more dangerous than it really is.

I mean, I'm terrified of spiders. As I get into my 30s, I find that I'm getting a little better about it, but when I was younger (even very recently) they used to really just throw me for a loop. Especially those stories about bananas? Oh my God. I used to flip my shit thinking about that.

I'd check this out - I thought it was a good sanity check article. It looks like the kinds of spiders that typically come along with bananas from Central and South America are fucking gigantic huntsman spiders... so, obviously not what you're seeing.

(Warning, article has pictures of spiders.)
posted by kbanas at 9:44 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

It is not a brown recluse nor a widow, just a fuzzy wuzzy bug eating pal.
posted by vrakatar at 9:51 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

For scale, it's next to a Phillips head screw, which are what, a quarter inch across or less?

This looks to me like a totally normal kind of spider, and not a special tropical kind that came in with your food. I lived in New England for years and saw spiders like this often.

Tell your husband to quit sending you pictures of spiders. What was the point of that, anyway?
posted by rtha at 9:51 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

IANAArachnologist, but I live in Massachusetts and that looks like a friendly local benign bug-eating jumping spider to me too.
posted by usonian at 9:56 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ha. I had not looked at the screw for scale. All I saw was a spider with an actual body and legs that look hairy, and it's so different from the usual lot in our house I panicked.

To be fair to my husband, I think it was to prepare me in case I saw any more when I got home, as this is his working-late night and I would have to deal with any further spider issues myself, and I kind of need some preparation to put on my big girl pants for spider situations.

Many thanks for the reality check!
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 9:58 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Tell him that next time he wants to give you a heads-up about a spider, he should just use words! Like, "Hey honey, saw a small (smaller than my pinky fingernail) spider in the bathroom this morning, just FYI."
posted by rtha at 10:18 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am not strongly pro-spider. I will gladly sweep up and dispose of cobweb spiders without a second thought. Maybe not terminate with a vengeance, but certainly no love lost. If larger spiders were to show up in my house then I would certainly end them.

But jumping spiders? I absolutely love them. My mother taught me as a kid that there's no way they can bite you, and I have carried dozens of them in my hands to go put them outside where they can find more bugs to eat. I'll never ever smash a jumping spider. They're the kittens of the spider world. Great pals, curious and energetic.

If there's any spider you should want in your house it's that one.
posted by komara at 10:19 AM on June 11, 2014 [16 favorites]

I used to be afraid of spiders.

Then one day it occurred to me that being afraid of spiders could actually kill me. What if I were in control of a vehicle at 100km/h and a great hairy skittery fast-running one dropped into my lap from the sun visor? That would be bad.

So I took my spider phobia seriously as a threat to my wellbeing rather than letting it continue to be just an amusing personal quirk, and I did a bit of research on getting rid of phobias, tried out the gradual exposure technique, and it worked. I can quite happily handle spiders now. In fact, I'm the sole member of my household willing to take them outside when that's what needs to happen.

That photo you have could be your first step along the same path. Make a teeny tiny lifesize print of it, frame it with a cut-up toothpick, and prop it up on your desk. Once its presence no longer bothers you, make a postage-stamp-size print and replace it with that. Then a playing-card-size print. Then an 8.5" x 11" print.

Then get Mr. Banjo to catch one of the actual critters, and put it in a little jar for you with flyscreen mesh over the top. Keep that on your desk, and spend a few minutes per day just watching it. Get a magnifying glass so you can get a really really good close look at it. Catch gnats and mosquitoes to poke through the wire for it.

The day you actually let a little jumping spider crawl over your hand without completely freaking out will be a good, good day.
posted by flabdablet at 11:01 AM on June 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

I called my desktop jar spider "Fritz", by the way. Ended up quite fond of him.
posted by flabdablet at 11:07 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also, Fritz was a huntsman spider, maybe three inches across with legs fully extended (I'll spare you the pictures; DuckDuckGo Images has more than I'm sure you care to see right now). I'd been working with photos of his cousins for two months before I felt able to get somebody to catch him in a jar for me.
posted by flabdablet at 11:13 AM on June 11, 2014

It's a jumping spider; either a Salticus (of small and zebra-striped) or a Phidippus (if a bit more chunky, fuzzier, and sometimes with brightly-coloured mouthparts). Salticus are a bit more shy, and will interact in a mostly getting-the-hell-out-the-way approach, but Phidippus are a bunch more audacious, and are not afraid of approaching you. You might get bitten by a Phidippus if you grab at it, but they're pretty harmless and fun to have around. Watch one take out a bug, and they'll be your friend for life.

Both kinds are native to where you are. I suspect they were near the bananas so they could feast off the fruit flies.
posted by scruss at 11:15 AM on June 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

That is a Phidippus audax. Bold Jumping Spider. Very interesting little critters, curious and about as friendly as a spider can get. Harmless to humans, deadly to insect pests.
posted by sanka at 11:42 AM on June 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

the only spider you have to worry about in a bunch of bananas from south america is called the "brazilian wandering spider", so you're safe here. about once every 15-20 years, a BWS bites an american shopper and there is mild media interest. you're more likely to hit the powerball.
posted by bruce at 11:49 AM on June 11, 2014

Then get Mr. Banjo to catch one of the actual critters, and put it in a little jar for you with flyscreen mesh over the top.

The day that happens is the day I get thrown out a window for violating one of the Top Level pacts of our marriage - I am to kill all spiders in the house upon sight (also, take out the garbage). The picture was my counting coup.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:30 PM on June 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

DOOOOD! You count coup on your enemy, not your spouse! Send future evidence of the coup to the spider's family, not yours.
posted by rtha at 12:45 PM on June 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

« Older How do I get lots of free/cheap porn magazines for...   |   Smith & Doe or Smith-Doe? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.