Hi there! I have been very determined not to buy into the false widow fear sweeping the UK, but today I noticed a spider that just struck me as weird, in my downstairs bathroom, ironically just hours after giving a self-righteous speech about why people needn't worry about false widows... typical eh?
I tried to take a photo, but the thing is very high up in the room, and I am 5ft tall... even stood on the loo, I have struggled to get a shot which shows all of the spider I have included a photo, but please let me know if there is some particular angle I should be trying to photograph to help with ID.
Spider number 1 is photographed on a gold-coloured curtain pole. This is the one that is a bit different to any spider I've encountered before. Just blacker and... different.
Spider number 2, I believe to be... I think a very good poster on here MWJB identified what seem to be some very similar spiders in another few threads as 'missing sector orb weaver', but I know nothing about spider identification to be sure! His (also terrible quality, sorry) picture is included because I am just a curious bunny, and got to thinking what other types of spiders live in my bathroom!
Any ID help would be much appreciated
*edited to include some better photos, even though I am a bit too arachnaphobic to get close enough for my camera phone to work!
I uploaded a few more pics than that, but the post does not seem to show them all.
It seems I must be a curiously masochistic arachnaphobe, since I ended up getting quite in to learning about spiders, and have spent the last two hours looking at photos online, despite the fact that every few minutes I would shriek and it constantly felt like there were spiders in my hair!
My best guess, though it's based on all of 2 hours' knowledge, would be that maybe the spider on the curtain pole is Steatoda triangulosa. That said, photos like this are keeping me nervous http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?client=firefox-a&sa=N&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&biw=1366&bih=613&tbm=isch&tbnid=Hwb6XApQZvaI_M:&imgrefurl=http://wiki.britishspiders.org.uk/index.php5%3Ftitle%3DFalse_Widow_Spiders&docid=ZLomBRk74yu5rM&imgurl=http://wiki.britishspiders.org.uk/images/a/af/Steatoda_paykulliana.jpg&w=1024&h=690&ei=j5lfUpyzFsjLhAeA-4DoAw&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:68,s:0,i:295&iact=rc&page=4&tbnh=184&tbnw=274&start=65&ndsp=18&tx=186&ty=49
How do the ones of ya'll that are so good at this start? Do you look for fluffy legs or number of eyes, or what?
All the spiders in your first post appear to be Xygiella x-notata. These are harmless orb weavers commonly found in & around houses, even on cars (they seem to like wing mirrors, but aerials can suffice).
Notice the wider, flared consecutive chevrons/feather-like pattern running down the middle of the abdomen of x-notata, with a dark line down the centre (false widows don't tend to have the dark line down the centre, Steatoda bipuncta often has a paler line, but no chevrons and Steatoda grossa may have a row of dots that can look like a line under strong light/with reflection from a flash, but no dark line separating these down the middle, Steatoda nobils' markings are variously described as a "skull", or "shield-like" but no dark centre line again). The legs of x-notata are often heavily banded, false widows (S nobilis) can have some banding around the legs when juveniles, but legs are more usually solid brown to black when mature.
If you look closely at the heads of Zygiella x-notata, you will see that the heads are brown, with a black stripe tapering back towards the abdomen, a thin dark line around either side of the head. False widows do not have these markings, the head is typically one solid colour.
X-notata are very variable in colour.
Another difference is the webs they weave, Z. x-notata is also called the missing sector orb weaver...they weave a classic orb web, but often leave 2 sectors free of the concentric "rungs". False widows do not weave orb webs...but I have seen one invade the web of x-notata to steal food.
I have both Z. x-notata & steatoda nobilis in my front room, I see them every day...I still make the odd mistake, or need to put them under a magnifier to be sure, ID'ing from photos is harder still. Two of the current press scare stories appear to involve the mistaken identity of Z. x-notata, assumed to be S. nobilis.
All that said, false widows are quite shy & docile and nowhere near as much of a nuisance as the press may lead you to believe.
Kind regards, Mark.
Hi! Thanks so much for your reply!
I am suprised that they are both the same kind, I had so convinved myself the littler one was triangulosa, because of the markings. I'll attach another photo just in case, by some chance, the first ones were muddled, but on the whole I am willing to take your word for it, since I know very little! The larger of the two is clearly the one you describe
Thanks for all the info too, I suspect I am going to find myself staring at and pondering every spider I see for a while!
I am fairly certain that this also a missing sector orb weaver.
If you look closely you can see marked banding around the legs, the head appears black in the centre, but lighter brown at the sides, the markings on the flanks of the abdomen look more Zygiella than S triangulosa?
I'm not sure how well established S. triangulosa is in the UK.
Thanks again for all the info, I especially appreciate you including so much extra information about identification to get me started in what I suspect will be a lifelong compulsion! Can you reccommend a good book for UK spider identification? I clearly have a lot to learn!
Anyway, today I was back in the same bathroom. This bathroom appears to be some kind of spider-haven. I spotted a few others, and, curiosity immediately well established, started snapping photos to try for IDs!
The first I think is the same as the other two I posted the other day. But then again, my track record isn't great! Sorry I couldn't get a better photo, but the little thing is inside the lightshade and the flash and bulb seemed to fight it out.
The next one, I am 90% sure isn't the same spider I photographed and showed you before, but the original spider has disappeared, so certainty is out of the question. Anyway, again, I've done my best to get a decent shot, but by the time I'm close enough I tend to be a bit scared about them falling on my face. Good way to combat spider fear though, learning to ID spiders!
I think he looks like an ant.
Yes, it looks likely that the spider in the lamp shade is also Z. x-notata.
The ant-like spider looks like a male "rabbit hutch spider", or Steatoda bipuncta - this is a false widow species, smaller than the more infamous ones & not typically implicated in bites.
www.field-studies-council.org have some ID charts which are a good starting point, there is this site of course & following this forum has been a great help to me.
I see you are up at a rediculous hour too
Thanks for the link!
I have some other, very minorly better photos of Mr Not-an-Ant. I know you have already made an ID, but I nearly gave myself a heart attack getting them, so I'll post them just in case they're useful to someone else. I'm quite pleased to have found one lol.
Am I correct in having picked up that the pale colored band about it's middle, the abdomen, indicate a potential false widow? To be honest, I think I'm more interested in the mission of finding spiders and getting decent photographs of them, then working out what they are, than I am afraid of being bitten. I have been living alongside spiders my whole life, and I have never been bitten, just frightened and embaressed!
Also, the pedipalp and size of abdomen are used to indicate gender right? It seems oddly straightforward if simply the presence of 'face balls' (not trying to be expletive, it's the best description for what they look like and are) is all one needs to know one is looking at a dude spider.
Also (sorry to keep adding more queries and clogging up your board, you must have been busy of late already with Widow Phobia sweeping the UK!), this spider does not appear to have much of a web. He lives kind of inside or underneath the light fixture. Is this typical?
A few months back, I decided to stop removing spiders from my home, in an attempt to overcome my phobia. However, lots of spiders that look like this one ended up moving in, and there didn't seem to be a stopping point. Soon, they started fighting and cannibalising, and I had to clear some out, because it was just horrid to see. Is this typical of all spiders, or did I just run into sibling rivalry?
Yes, abdomen size & pedipalps are good indicators, but sub-adult spiders (palps not fully developed) can be hard to guage, or females that have just been through a moult & not yet filled back out.
Spiders may live relatively close to each other (like Z. x-notata), but they don't typically live in colonies/nests. Once they are big enough to fend for themselves, they do & don't like competition for food & resources.
Steatodas don't weave the typical orb webs, they make messy, hammock-like webs, or webs lining the corners/edges of areas, S. bipuncta webs can be hard to see without good light.