Lately everything keeps going back to fishing. Blood curdling screams from my wife included.
Let me explain.
What is referred to in our house as a ‘Big Hairy Drain Spider’ had elicited the usual response from you know who. The BHDS alert prompted me to think of the spider photos I took in July. I figured it would be more productive trying to identify the spider I saw rather than some imaginary spider in her hair. The only thing stopping me was the ritual ‘head and back check’. Once she found me at the computer and I was able to dismiss her panic I was free to dig up these photos.
Here you can see why I thought ‘nest’ right away.
The construction at the top a the Joe Pye-weed flower stalk looks more like a nursery web the closer you look.
Egg sac? I don’t want to count the spiders before the eggs are hatched but I’d wager there’s a whole lot of future screams developing in that web.
So if this is a nursery web, what kind of spider would build such a thing? I think we can start off with a BFS. Easily over 3 inches long with it’s legs stretched out I would say qualifies this as a big freaking spider. Well at least around here in the north country it does. Thank goodness for cold winters, they keep the real big hairy drain spiders away.
She definitely is one bad a$$ mother protecting her nest. Remembering the first rule of wildlife observation, ‘If you stick your nose between a mother and her offspring, she’ll do her best to bite your face off’, I cautiously bent the stalk with one hand while photographing with the other from what I hoped was a safe distance. During the whole photo shoot she refused to flee and I could feel the venom in her gaze. I had the feeling she would pounce at any second.
She stared me down. Of course it wasn’t a fair fight, optically the odds against me were 4 to 1. She also remained steadfast on 8 legs while mine signaled to me their readiness to collapse the second she made a move on me. Having no clue how far she could jump, I played it smart and let her win. There’s no shame in taking a dive when pitted against a determined female.
It was her eyes that took me so far down the path. She had smiling eyes – each set of four formed a grin. I took it as a sign her genus was Dolomedes and not Pisaurina. The Pisaurina genus frowns with it’s lower set of eyes. This pretty has a double grin.
I had to stop here on the path I took:
Nursery Web Spiders (Pisauridae) – Fishing Spiders (Dolomedes)
I didn’t find any species I could feel comfortable with. I feel as if I’m on the right path but this is as far as I go. I’m not ready to make a commitment with her yet. I keep getting this feeling she’s the type I don’t want to know even if she has a sizable waterfront nest-egg.
I could be totally wrong about the preliminary identification but at least I got back to fishing.
NAME THAT SPIDER
Although this is not a contest the first person to submit the correct identity of this spider wins the right to wear a smug look on their face. And don’t forget to enter the concurrent non-contest for the best non-scientific names. In the case multiple winners are chosen each will be able to claim their own aura of whatever.
ENTER NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. NON-CONTEST ENDS WHEN PIGS FLY
July 17, 2010
Town of Clare, St. Lawrence County, NY
Middle Branch Grasse River
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