total spider freakout identification filter... what is this monster?
July 28, 2014 7:52 AM   Subscribe

We live in st Petersburg fla near the beach and intercoastal. This thing is dime sized, on a web, and making me want to stay at work..... What the heck is it? Arachnophobia trigger warning.... Picture here
posted by chasles to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
I don't know the name of that spider but I wanted to give you some reassurance. I also live in St Pete (hi!) and I've had the same critter living on my front porch for about a month. Every week or so he moves his web around but he has never come down (that I've seen), or been aggressive or threatening in any way. I walk right by him several times a day and he completely ignores me.

I've had these little guys around for years and they've never once given me trouble. Data point: I hate spiders with the fury of an atom bomb.
posted by _Mona_ at 7:57 AM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, what a beautiful spiny orb-weaver!
posted by foxfirefey at 7:58 AM on July 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Looks like a spiny orb weaver/star spider. They are generally one of the least dangerous types of spider.
posted by bonehead at 7:58 AM on July 28, 2014

Best answer: Beneficial Spiders In The Garden: Spiny Orb Weaver Spider. They are very very common in FL, and like to stay outside - they won't come in. They eat mosquitos!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:25 AM on July 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Identification is out of the way, so let me reassure you as to the nature of these little cuties.

We have the non spiny Orb weaver variety in PLENTY in my yard (in Middle TN for reference). Mine look very different but are in a very closely related family. In the coming weeks we will probably get around 20-30 of them in the backyard hanging in the Mimosa trees and on the house.

They are very non aggressive and will probably never leave the web other than to put up a new one. If you ever get the chance to watch it make the web, don't miss out! We've never even had one drop on our heads and that is with a number of them making webs from the gutters to the side of the house The web ended at around 5 feet up from the ground for the ones on the house and 6.5 feet up for the one built over a floodlight(that was a smart spider, she ate WELL!)

They eat plenty of nuisance bugs and are great at keeping our mosquito population down (I live very close to water). Their bite shouldn't cause any issues unless you have a reaction, but from what I understand they are hesitant to bite.
posted by Twain Device at 8:44 AM on July 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Good grief, that should really come with a warning label - objects appear scarier than they really are!

Glad to hear it's beneficial.

Also - look, St Pete people! Someone should have a meetup. Just sayin'.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:04 AM on July 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I saw those guys all the time when I lived in St. Pete. They're incredibly freaky-looking, but harmless.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:10 AM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

We had an orb weaver spider on our porch one summer, it was extremely disgusting-looking and I hated walking past it every day, but it stayed in its web and didn't bother us.
posted by Librarypt at 9:50 AM on July 28, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks. Smoosh averted. The littles have named him Mr. Star and are watching from behind glass.

posted by chasles at 10:40 AM on July 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Godfrey Daniel, what a terrifying-looking critter!

(What's the naturalist adage, something along the lines of, from the deepest cave
to tooling along at 30,000 feet in a jetliner, you're never more than 10 feet away from
a spider?)
posted by Chitownfats at 11:24 AM on July 28, 2014

I'm happy your spider has been identified and that it's (allegedly) harmless. That said, if I had one of those visibly living near or in my house, I would need immediate, intensive therapy. DIME SIZED???? Yoinks. Give me snakes any day.

Just dropping in to note that just because the spiders haven't taken over YET, it doesn't mean they're not PLANNING to. We'll all feel pretty silly when we're bowing down before our Spiny Spiderine Overlords.
posted by kythuen at 11:38 AM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Most, if not all, orb-weaving spiders are harmless to people. If it weaves a spiral web in the air, you generally don't have to worry about it. The highly venomous spiders either have ground/corner tangled-up webs or are wanderers.

*Edit - Most spiders will still bite you if you harass them, but these ones aren't going to really hurt you.
posted by Gneisskate at 1:21 PM on July 28, 2014

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