Tuesday, June 5, 2012

True or False?

La-dee-daa, I head over to Dean to check on the status of our first and only Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar (on a Spicebush, no less) and hopefully snap a photo or two for an upcoming post...

...and it's gone.

We strike out again. Last time I saw it, it was still about a week away or more from entering the chrysalis stage, it should still be there.

Thoroughly dejected, I scan everywhere for it, even on the cage protecting the Spicebush from the deer...

...and I find this!

Holy guacamole, I sure am glad I didn't bump into this thing, it was right under my nose as I leaned into the cage looking for the caterpillar!

Here's a view from it's under-side, look at that hourglass and long, needle-like legs, surely it is...

Here's a look at the top-side. 

Here's a side view. The abdomen looks...strange, too thin maybe. Most Black Widows that I've seen have larger, roundish abdomens. 

In the immortal words of Ice Cube..."You betta check yo self befo you wreck yo self"!

Well, what do you think? Is it a true Black Widow, or a false one? I relocated it far into the woods, just in case. You know how most spiders run away when you mess with them, like trying to scoop one off the kitchen floor and toss 'em outside before the kitties start playing with it. Well this one didn't. It let me pick it up (with a stick of course!) and it confidently just sat there like "I'll mess you up silly biped humanoid".


  1. Boy, we need a pro. This does NOT look like the standard black widow -- way to skinny, for one thing--and they are reclusive...hide under rocks, in log piles...I just can't imagine one hanging out in the fence like that. But I'm striking out finding the answer. Gonna have to call on my tweeps!

  2. Yikes! Glad you were OK. Not sure if that's a black widow but eager to her from someone who knows for sure.

    I have my own spider story from earlier this year when I pulled on a pair of shorts without shaking them out first. Out flew a Yellow Sac Spider. Had never heard of one before, but did a bit of Googling after I caught it and discovered that it too has a somewhat toxic bite. In fact, some people think that a number of the bites attributed to brown recluse spiders may actually be yellow sac spider bites.

    Now I shake out pants and shorts before I try them on! :)

    ps - That spider too was relocated outside to the far side of the yard. Don't have any woods adjoining the property or I would have relocated it there.

  3. RK Young, I agree, it doesn't look like a standard widow, but I just can't find another spider that has a red hourglass. If it's a real widow, maybe she's just dehydrated and disoriented ;-)

    Aaron, Gee whiz! I'd never heard of a Yellow Sac spider before, now I gotta be on the lookout for those too, thanks for the tip and glad you didn't get bitten.

  4. Julie, looks like it is a genuine black widow! Those fancy legs threw me off too, but here's a link to a genetics journal entry that shows diagrams of the red markings on the abdomen.

    I did NOT buy a copy! :)

  5. RK Young, yep, I think that about confirms it, thanks!

    Also my mom came across this photo on the internet showing one with a similar skinny abdomen and markings like on the top row of your diagram:

  6. Eeek - this is all creeping me out! I just extracted a tick yesterday and now this!

  7. Ellen, Ticks are the WORST! They totally scare me the most!

  8. I dunno wut yer spider is.

    Usually it's wasps eating my caterpillars, I've even seen wasps eating moths they'd caught, and tearing open chrysalis's.

    The spiders like to catch the butterflies on the wing...

    I'm with the people that are surprised to see black widows out in the open. I find them in my piles of nursery pots, and in my woodpiles, but... not in the open.