Spider ID?
August 7, 2007 9:32 PM   Subscribe

What kind of spider is here, hanging out above my bed? I would guesstimate that from leg to leg the guy you see there is probably 1.5"-2". Is it the somewhat hard to identify brown recluse (who isn't even supposed to be native to Chicago)? Will I die? How best can I kill it from a distance? I am staying awake anxiously awaiting your answers!

And thanks!
posted by ztdavis to Science & Nature (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
What kind of spider is here, hanging out above my bed?

Dunno

Will I die?

Probably not, the worst brown recluse bites usually result in is amputation. I don't know what would happen if it bit you on the head.

How best can I kill it from a distance?


Vacuum cleaner. It might not be dead right away, but if you continue vacuuming other stuff for a bit that will probably kill it. If you have a swiffer type floor thing, they make good spider-squishers.
posted by yohko at 9:39 PM on August 7, 2007


I don't know what it is. But here's how to deal with it: get a wide, clear glass bowl, cup, vase or similar container, and a rigid flat rectangle of plastic or cardboard large enough to cover the cup. An advertising pamphlet or magazine is ideal. Slowly approach to within arms length from the spider with the cup. Swiftly jam the cup over the spider. Carefully squeeze the pamphlet over the lip of the cup. The spider will probably jump down into the cup or step onto the pamphlet. Either way you'll have it trapped easily enough. Then take it outside and release it in a tree.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:39 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dunno either, but from your link my guess is that it is NOT a recluse because it has more than one colour on it (a recluse supposedly has only one colour).

Vacuum sounds good. I'd take the head off and go for direct suction.
posted by kch at 9:41 PM on August 7, 2007


By the way, almost all spiders that are actually dangerous to humans live in Australia. It's extremely unlikely to be harmful in any way.

If it's hard to reach, get a proper stepladder or something first. You don't want to be worrying about your footing while catching a spider!
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:41 PM on August 7, 2007


I'd try rolling a Katamari over it. I've had a lot of success with that method on crabs in my house, and they are both rendered similarly.

sorry I have been staying awake playing too many video games.

More helpfully, I'd back up your guess at brown recluse based on this chart. But I am no bug expert.

from the chart:

"Brown Recluse Spiders ...deadly and aggressive

Venom toxicity - the brown recluse venom can cause significant cutaneous injury with tissue loss and necrosis.

Habitat - brown recluse is found in the United States from the east to the west coast, with predominance in the south.

Spider Identification - an adult spider is 1/4 to 3/4 inch in body - a dark violin shape is located on the top of the leg attachment region with the neck of the violin pointing backward toward the abdomen. Unlike most spiders that have 8 eyes, the brown recluse has 6 eyes arranged in pairs - one pair in front and a pair on either side."
posted by mikepop at 9:41 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Brown recluse spiders have a distinctive dark fiddle pattern on their backs. The spider in your picture doesn't appear to have such a pattern.

Yes, you will die, but the odds are very good this spider won't have anything to do with your death. There are, so far as I know, no documented cases of a person being killed by a spider bite unless they had an allergic reaction to the venom. Spider venom simply isn't designed to kill humans.

As far as killing it, it's pretty hard to do from a distance. I suggest taking a shoe in each hand, holding them about two feet (no pun intended) apart on either side of the spider with the soles pointing towards each other, and then clapping them together, thus killing it.
posted by cerebus19 at 9:42 PM on August 7, 2007


Looks like a huntsman, from that chart. The pedipalps are a bit bigger and the body's a bit chunkier than a brown recluse's.

Get some gloves first!
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:44 PM on August 7, 2007


From your second link:

If the spider has a body length of greater than half an inch, it is NOT a recluse.

You have described your spider as 1.5-2 inches in length. Probably not a recluse (and definitely not a black widow).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:45 PM on August 7, 2007


I second the vacuum to get the spider. I have personal experience in that department with Huntsmen living in Australia. It sat in our vac (we have the clear acrylic panel cyclone variety) and made a nest out of the filter contents until my husband took it outside to dispose of it. Any spiders big enough to warrant the vac are home invaders, in my opinion, and are NOT welcome!
posted by inquisitrix at 9:47 PM on August 7, 2007


What's That Bug has a few pictures of wolf spiders on this page (scroll down) that look kinda like yours.

You shouldn't kill it, you should leave it be and let it hunt other bugs. Spiders are a sign of a healthy house!
posted by exceptinsects at 9:47 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


A brown recluse should have Uniformly light-colored legs – no stripes, no bands; yours appears to have banded or striped legs (a little hard to tell from the photo).

Let it live and eat the bugs in your house.
posted by rtha at 9:56 PM on August 7, 2007


Blazecock Pileon: leg to leg about 2", his body is small enough.

But, yes, the markings on his back indicate otherwise anyway.

He's been vacuumed up (and best stay that way!), something I wouldn't have thought of own my own, so thanks everyone.

Still...best guess so far seems to be wolf spider, although I've seen many a wolfie and he didn't seem like one. So, for posterity and future reference, I guess I'm still looking for a better ID.
posted by ztdavis at 9:57 PM on August 7, 2007


Let it live? It's hanging above the bed! I love spiders too for their bug-eating properties, but they get to hang out in the bathroom or living room, not where I sleep. *shudder*

I once found a far-too-big spider hanging out on my wall. Taking careful aim, I threw a rubber-soled slipper at it. I hit it squarely. It fell off the wall, dead, and landed on a nearby bongo drum, and was sufficiently heavy to make a nice 'tock' sound. Problem solved.

On preview: oh well, too late.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:00 PM on August 7, 2007


Pretty sure wolf spider (something about those stalky eyes).

Don't kill it, it's beautiful! Release him outside somewhere.
posted by frobozz at 10:00 PM on August 7, 2007


Oh, well, poo.
posted by frobozz at 10:01 PM on August 7, 2007


For future reference, rest assured that he was not out to get you. Humans are not spider food and assuming you weren't in his way (since he was on the ceiling), a bite is very unlikely.
posted by desjardins at 10:04 PM on August 7, 2007


Recluses come out at night to hunt, but usually they stalk prey and don't hang out in webs. We've had a moderate brown recluse infestation in our house for a couple of years but none of us humans or animals have been bitten - even after the cats delicately de-legged one of them (or the kids had one in the bathtub, or one lived under my daughter's mattress long enough to molt).

Most of the pics in my gallery show the violin pattern on the thorax and the eye pattern - three sets of two eyes in a crescent shape. Here's one on a ruler for scale.
posted by Addlepated at 10:17 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


The page linked in rtha's comment states that:
If the spider has a conspicuous web out where you can see it ... it is NOT a recluse.
Based on your pic, reckon it's no recluse. Seconding letting it live!
posted by barnacles at 10:57 PM on August 7, 2007


we're too late, barnacles - it's been vacuumed.
posted by rtha at 11:11 PM on August 7, 2007


Oh. My. God. I can't believe that thing is hanging over your bed. That would give me night terrors for weeks.
Use a vacuum cleaner, fly swatter, wooden leg, anything. Whenever I use the vacuum cleaner to suck up spiders, I spray some bug poison into the vacuum just to make sure it dies in there. I don't want it laying eggs or setting up shop in the vacuum bag.
Kill the MoFo ASAP.
posted by HotPatatta at 11:14 PM on August 7, 2007


Watch what bug spray you use as a chaser. If it is flammable or explosive (many aerosol types are) don't spray it into your vac, you could have a fire or explosion from the motor.
posted by Mitheral at 11:42 PM on August 7, 2007


Amusing division of opinions here. Some of you clearly have no idea what it's like to be afraid of spiders. And yeah I know it's an irrational fear, or phobia if you prefer, but me and my rubber-soled slipper are quite comfortable with that and I will enjoy my good night's sleep.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:57 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't like to kill bugs (except wasps and yellow jackets), but hairspray is good for immobilizing and killing them, even gets flying/jumping ones from a safe distance.
posted by crabintheocean at 1:20 AM on August 8, 2007


Whenever I use the vacuum cleaner to suck up spiders, I spray some bug poison into the vacuum just to make sure it dies in there. I don't want it laying eggs or setting up shop in the vacuum bag.

...

Watch what bug spray you use as a chaser. If it is flammable or explosive (many aerosol types are) don't spray it into your vac, you could have a fire or explosion from the motor.

...and, natural selection is foiled again.
posted by lastobelus at 2:37 AM on August 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Can't guess about the species, but there are brown recluse in the Chicago area. I know several people who have been bitten. You will not die unless you happen to be allergic, I suppose, but you will spend two to three months carefully changing the dressing on what looks like a smallish bedsore until the wound closes and ingesting various antibiotics to keep it from going into something much more interesting.
It's not like it's an endangered species, if you can get it outside, OK, but if there's a good chance it's going to run down your arm, you are allowed to wipe it out with impunity.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 5:41 AM on August 8, 2007


It isn't a wolf spider.

I wish someone would identify it as a friend of mine just shook one of those things out of her shorts.
posted by konolia at 5:55 AM on August 8, 2007


I don't think it was a wolf spider. We had some of those and their legs looked more delicate compared to their torsos.

It sat in our vac (we have the clear acrylic panel cyclone variety) and made a nest out of the filter contents until my husband took it outside to dispose of it.

Oh god, that makes me want to die a little. I thought the vacuum killed them.
posted by sugarfish at 6:23 AM on August 8, 2007


My money is on the orb weaving spider. Look at the abdomen in your picture vs the one here
posted by Mave_80 at 6:42 AM on August 8, 2007


This is Schustafa's wife:
I'm fairly certain that wolf spiders do not construct webs, as they actively pursue their prey. So that rules that out as a possibility.
posted by schustafa at 6:44 AM on August 8, 2007


A word of advice warning: I too am firmly in the "Don't kill bugs" camp, but large/ brown spiders* have been an exception since the summer my bedroom had a group of them. It took all summer and a fair bit of ointment to get rid of some amazing bits they left across my lower stomach. Thank [deity] for elastic waistbands.

*Excepting daddy long legs.
posted by yerfatma at 7:10 AM on August 8, 2007


I can't kill bugs or even touch them even though I really really hate them. So here's what I do...

I generally capture the bug under a cup, cut a little slit in the cup so it can breath, and put loads of books or other heavy things on top of the cup so that it can't get out. Then, I slowly move the cup to the hallway and put a sign out that explains that there is a big bug under the cup.

Works like a charm. :)

Now if you don't live in a place with a lot of guys who are ready and willing to help out in this situation, just ignore this comment.
posted by CAnneDC at 12:38 PM on August 8, 2007


Your thread reminded me that I need to order one of these gizmos that allow for catch and release of creepy bugs - you may want one for future events.

I liked aeschenkarnos suggestion in theory BUT when I tried it and caught a spider, it started running around the glass in a panic and I was so squicked out that I dropped the whole thing so it got away. I also tried using the glass bowl method with a house centipede and it worked a few times, but apparently they can flatten out to almost nothing and once one squeezed its way out and ran up my arm. I'm told the vibrations of the scream registered on the richter scale. Needless to say I am no longer a glass bowl fan - a technique that requires nerves of steel.

The new system looks pretty good and relatively safe even to an arachnophobic like me.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:39 PM on August 8, 2007


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