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Outside » Natural World

The Great Scapegoat: Why some sink spiders end up in the closet

I went into the bathroom to wash my face. Oh, boy! A LOT was going on there!

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What a great way to start the day! It was about 6:30 a.m., I wandered out to the living room, stuffed a couple of pieces of wood on the coals in the wood stove, then rolled back the curtains to see (a) what the morning temperature is - as if it made any difference - and (b) who was on the bird-feeders.

Juncos, houses sparrows, house finches, quail scratching around under the big feeder, a Spotted Towhee trying to stay hidden, and the usual six or seven eye-catching American Goldfinches on the thistle feeder.

Then I went into the bathroom to wash my face. Oh, boy! A LOT was going on there! Take a look at that beauty in the first photo; she was in the sink. That's momma "sink spider," better known as the cobweb spider, Agelenidae (sp). My wife, Sue, is not afraid of spiders, nor does she go bananas when one falls in the sink. Just the same, she often says, "Outside! Outside!" when I scoop up a spider for relocation to a safer place.

I often refuse, which she goes along with, albeit, reluctantly. It may be too cold outside for the spider to handle the shock. I like them in my closet as they eat things that black widows like, and I'd rather have a harmless cobweb spider in my closet than a lethal black widow. In this case, momma cobweb spider went into the clothes closet.

At that point, I decided to take a shower rather than wash my face. I pulled back the shower curtain and - lo and behold - there, bold as brass, sitting in his silken web, was poppa cobweb spider. As you can imagine, I was pretty pleased with this unexpected turn of events - you know having both mom and pop in the same room at the same time. That doesn't happen every day. Sue's response to my pleasing find was, "Outside! Outside!" But I got away with dumping him in with mom in the clothes closet.

These poor spiders get blamed for more unknown and unexpected sores on people's behinds, legs, neck and other places of their anatomy than anything I can think of. Even Sue with her wonderful patience and understanding, upon discovery of an unknown blemish, will often casually say, "I think I've been bitten by a spider."

In almost 99.9 percent of the times it was not a spider, but often an unknown scratch and secondary infection that got the blemish going. Sometimes, pussy-cat or doggy-dog will bring in fleas, or some other biting arthropod rat will get you in the night, but spiders are just the scape goat.

Yes! I will agree that a Brown Recluse, Loxosceles reclusa, also known as the brown recluse spider or violin spider, is bad news in anyone's home. But, unless you have just come home with a lot of baggage and other possessions from the Texas/Kansas neck-of-the-woods, the chances of that being in your home is pretty slim. Yes, they have been found in California, but again, the chances of bringing one back with you is very rare. What you usually find are the harmless (and beneficial) good old cobweb spiders.

Rest easy, the spiders of the world aren't out to get you!

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