Return Of Spring Spider


Happenstance anticipated my return from work, facilitating discovery of bathroom and bedroom spiders within moments of each other. Bathroom spider came first, announcing herself with curtsied flare through a tiny vent on the window frame. An unmistakable presence, expressed in polite display of her polished black belly. “Good evening spider” made it official – Spring had arrived. Mindful of missed signals or misinterpretation, bedroom spider stood in brazen watch beneath the sill. Not to be upstaged by bathroom spider, bedroom spider presented her lustrous belly with measures of respectful confidence. “Lovely to see you again” solidified Spring’s early return.

Steatoda Grossa (False Black Widow) moved in a few years ago. Skeptical at first, unclear over motive, manners or intent, we eyed each other with uneasy caution. Awed by their work ethic, meticulous awareness of spacial boundaries and indifference towards exploration – we made peace. A declaration stipulating acceptance based on one condition – land speculation is out of the question, build comfortable homes and stay put. A workable truce, broken once last summer by a second cheeky bedroom spider who went rogue, never to be seen again.

Be it bathroom, bedroom, kitchen or laundry room spider –  as if by command, they vanish at first signs of frost, retreating to mysterious realms known only to winter spiders. Oblivion engulfs Steatoda Grossa. Noticeably absent precedes nary a thought, all but forgotten until  stirrings of imminent spring mark their return. Today was that day.

Gentle rain forest winter spared Vancouver tongues uttering arctic out-flows, polar vortex, deep freeze, windchill, or snowfall warning. Despite bold daffodils towering six inches above rain soaked soil, blooming crocus and snowdrop, rosy plum blossoms tossing caution to the wind – February’s winter fury remained fathomable.

Forget groundhog shadows or Farmer Almanacs, dismiss calendars and weather channel designations –  when spiders reclaim familiar pasture in my home, spring has officially declared itself.

Steatoda grossa

 

Black Widow Masquerade


Living for well over a year in a house dominated by an infestation of Black Widow spiders is stressful. Occasional laundry room encounters, replaced over time by flagrant ambush intent, a malicious massing of troops oblivious to boundaries or my personal space. Buoyed by apparent inaction – basement widows became kitchen, bathroom and bedroom sentries. No sooner would I find one, another was lost.

Apparently I wasn’t alone. My post “Seven Black Widow Spiders” ranks as third most read of nearly 850 posts. A lot of Vancouver residents were under siege.

Enter Catherine Scott, a student of Entomology at Simon Fraser University. Long story short – Catherine looked at photos of my spiders, concluding with enough certainty to make my day – it was all a masquerade. My cheeky Arachnid invaders are False Black Widows, AKA Steatoda Grossa, not Latrodectus Hesperus, the nightmare widows I feared.

Four spots on abdomen - Steatoda grossa

Steatoda Grossa – False Black Widow

http://bugguide.net/node/view/6932/bgimage

Less venomous, common in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, and easily masquerading as their ominous cousins if seen under dim light. Dark light makes them appear black, in reality their bulk is a brownish purple up close and personal under favourable lighting. The abdomen of False Widows is more oblong in shape than rounded bellies of true Black Widows.

Thank you Catherine, I slept much better last night.