Fiddlebacks

Originally published at WormSpit. You can comment here or there.

I haven’t been writing much lately, but a LOT has been happening.  Chris and I moved house, I’ve written an article, getting ready to film a presentation for a museum – I really need to write it all up, but not tonight.

Tonight, I’m stuck with spiders.  In the past couple of weeks, we have found five brown recluse, or fiddleback, spiders, in the house.  They’re not aggressive, or dramatic – but they push my buttons.  For some reason, I can hold bees in my hands and let them lick the honey off, but these *particular* spiders freak me right out.

My grandmother was bitten by one many years ago.  I was probably ten or eleven at the time, maybe a little older.  She got a necrotizing wound on her forehead which required daily medication for many months, and eventually plastic surgery to replace a void in the flesh.

If I didn’t have several hundred silkworms currently chomping away, and a video to shoot for a major museum in two weeks, I would probably go get some heavy-duty spray and “nuke ‘em ’til they glow so you can shoot ‘em in the dark.”   I’m usually more of an Integrated Pest Management type, slow and careful with chemicals – but there’s something about these particular pests.  I’ve ordered glue traps, and will start out with those and see if I need to move up to wettable powder around the baseboards.

One thing that they don’t mention in the literature (that I have found, at least) is that if a recluse is hiding out beneath the treadles of your loom, and you bump the loom with the vacuum, it will run out and bounce up and down on the carpet.  I don’t know whether it’s a threat posture, or if it was just freaking out from the vibration – but it’s not what I’d call reassuring.

Photo behind the jump, for those of you who don’t care for big pictures of wiggly critters…

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31 replies
  1. molasses
    molasses says:

    well, i’m sorry. Spiders are a trigger for many people and while I haven’t encountered your buddies a friend of mine struggled with them in his apartment in San Diego a couple of years ago.

    He was vigilant, did not lay poison but figured out their game and beat them at it, (the hiding and homing).

    I like spiders. I had a few bites as a younger person, nothing but a very large swelling/itch, but I don’t see them now. Of course, my beloved cat actually *is* pesticide. I often move bugs out of house to save them from the kitty!

    I want to share a beautiful wolf spider who lives under the deck at my friends place last month.
    S/he would dash up and down over and over if people or dog approached, an entirely lovely spider, nobody got bit.

    Slats, resident wolf spider
    i love this person.

    best of luck with your buddies and love to you and Chris.

  2. admin
    admin says:

    Oh, I love spiders – just not THESE spiders. Argiopes, araneids…. I love the big web-building ones, and the wolfs, and the jumping spiders – we used to have a “pet” one that lived in a houseplant. It’s the ones that hide under things and bite people and give them gangrene that I don’t like.

    Rationally, I know that they very rarely bite, and then only when accidentally crushed or squeezed or trodden on – it’s just the habit of hiding in places where I need to reach. And showing up in my bathtub! That was an unpleasant surprise.

  3. molasses
    molasses says:

    i work 1/2 way up the mountain and there are giant ginormic unforgivably effing huge house spiders and they’re skittish and creepy and weird.

    one came home in my backpack but i managed to get him/her into a glass and outside.

    barf.

    (ps, don’t forget the love part)

  4. admin
    admin says:

    Oh, I wasn’t forgetting – actually, I thought, “Hm – that’s what I need, some warm bosomy hug time, to calm my freaked-out three in themorning spider-nerves.

  5. phonemonkey
    phonemonkey says:

    Yeah, spiders that bite people and give them gangrene would probably be pushing things a bit for me, although like you, I am very fond of spiders in general – they eat the dirty flies and bitey mosquitoes, and when anyone finds a spider in the house, I’m always the person to gently put it outside before some assclown decides it has to be killed.

    Found a magnificent harvestman in the kitchen last night.

  6. azurepenguin
    azurepenguin says:

    holy CRAP I could not handle that.

    I am severly arachnaphobic. The significant other has FINALLY found out after I jumped out of a moving car because there was one crawling on the headliner above me.

    I understand you have your silkworms but I would SOOO be moving out for a week and nuking the house.

  7. sonicwylde
    sonicwylde says:

    Lately spiders have been freaking me out, I try to trap and throw them outta the house.

    But lately they have been making me just way to jumpy and creeped out.

  8. hlinspjalda
    hlinspjalda says:

    Ugh. I know what you mean. I’m fine with bees and wasps walking on me, not afraid of regular spiders at all. But these guys are RIGHT OUT! Crush the little buggers under your cowboy heels on sight!

    I hope you’re enjoying your new home otherwise.

  9. naturespirit
    naturespirit says:

    I’ve mostly gotten over my arachnophobia. I only really freak if I find one crawling on me unexpectedly, otherwise I’m happy to let them eat the other buggies in my house and garden. But poisonous ones? Not in my house.

  10. admin
    admin says:

    Yeah, see, that’s the thing. I’ve read a lot of information that says they’re like bees – will only bite if physically trapped or squeezed – but my Grandmother got bitten in the forehead pulling a sweater over her head. I won’t be having with that.

  11. theantichick
    theantichick says:

    we had an infestation at the rent house we were at before this one. we had to have an exterminator come out. incidentally, there *is* a non-venemous spider that looks EXACTLY like a recluse, until you look at their mouth parts under a microscope. we were never able to determine which we had, but the exterminator said it didn’t much matter, recluses are common enough around here we assume they’re recluses when we see those markings.

    good luck getting rid of them!

    also, my mom has been bitten several times (they live in the country), and was going to have to have surgery the first time, but an asian pharmacist had her use some stuff called icthammol and it drew out a core in the center of the black area where the tissue was dying and it healed on its own. so she keeps it around and uses it every time she gets bitten and has never had it progress past a black ring around the red site.

  12. txtriffidranch
    txtriffidranch says:

    Encourage your local mud-dauber wasps. They’re spider exoparasites, and they’re the only active predator for both black widows and brown recluses. (I’ve been doing more wasp research for an upcoming article. Does it show?)

  13. admin
    admin says:

    Hmm. If they were in the yard, that would certainly be an option – we back up to a creek, so plenty of mud for the daubing. However, these are in bathrooms and my studio; no wasp access.

  14. vicki_sine
    vicki_sine says:

    Actually the red wasp will hit recluse as well.

    Unfortunately one of my neighbors recently decided that for my own good and inspite of the fact I had them so tame I could move their nests by hand, to without permission spray all my wasp nest with pesticides.

    Wasn’t that nice of them?

  15. vicki_sine
    vicki_sine says:

    mud-daubers are not exoparasites, they actually stuff the spiders in their baby chambers.

    You are thinking of the smaller parasitic wasps.

  16. txtriffidranch
    txtriffidranch says:

    From what I’ve understood, they qualify as exoparasites in that the larvae are completely dependent upon paralyzed prey, and I need to check further to see if the eggs are actually injected into the last spider in the brood chamber or if it’s laid atop it. If it’s the former, it’s definitely an exoparasite, because the larva is still needing a living host for its development. (This is to distinguish the mud-dauber from social wasps such as paper wasps, which will capture prey, but will lop off the nonmeaty parts before flying back and presenting it to the already hatched larvae.)

  17. admin
    admin says:

    lop off the nonmeaty parts before flying back and presenting it to the already hatched larvae

    Aww, how sweet! They’re like mommy birds! Angry, buzzing, stinging mommy birds.

    I’m just glad that our yellow paper wasps here, aren’t like the red wasps of my childhood in Houston – more than a few times, I had them fly up and just land on me and sting me. No provocation, not near the nest – just apparently needed stinging. Once, on the cartilage of my ear.

  18. not_justagirl
    not_justagirl says:

    *shudder, jump, swear*

    I got all excited about piccies of your worms and I gotz a spider… and more piccies at the beginning of the comments… glargh!!

    I cheered when I saw your post on my flist.. you’re missed mr! And thanks to you I got to meet two weekends ago!!!!! She friended me thanks to your cochineal post and we both happened to be going to An Tir West War!!! So thanks!!!

    and kill the spiders… horribly and slowly… in a closed container… *shudder*

  19. admin
    admin says:

    Nope. Big bright window, and lights on much of the evening, as I’ve been up there moving stuff around. They have been hiding behind and under things, where I suppose it’s darker than in the room – but it’s certainly not the kind of corner-of-dark-closet environment that I have read is the typical home of choice.

  20. admin
    admin says:

    Re: *shudder, jump, swear*

    sorry about that! I know that spiders are a freak-out for a lot of people, but ya gotta read the paragraph before following the cut!

    Very cool about meeting new company – I try to be a web of resources, and spin strands from friend to friend!

  21. monkeybung
    monkeybung says:

    Congrats on the move and the documentary. Ugh on the spiders. I’m cool w/ spiders in the house usually, but we don’t have unusually nasty, poisonous one in the NW. My grandmother was bitten by one that came in w/ a shipment of bananas she was unpacking. It left the flesh all deformed and she never regained feeling in her thumb. I like the nuke-em-til-they-glow route.

  22. tilia_tomentosa
    tilia_tomentosa says:

    It’s good that there is such a thing as private emails. 😉

    I counted my youngest “surprise” silkowrms. 92! But everybody is healthy now, for a change. 🙂

  23. monkeyspinner
    monkeyspinner says:

    Thanks so much. ALL my wanting to go to texas and study mohair goats is gone. I despise spiders, cause they always seem to get in my bed and bite me. Some people say we have those here and others say not… We have jumping spiders. They scare the crap out of me.. I wouldn’t care so much but the fact they are always in my bed… So your justified in the loathing of them

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