Mary has been away in Texas with our grandson for three long lonely weeks, and she just came home late last night…and we just got back from the airport a short while ago. She came with presents for me! You’ll never guess what they are.
Spiders! A dozen house spiders collected from nooks and crannies around my kids’ house in San Antonio. Somehow she knew exactly what would make me happiest.
They’re in the lab now, and curiously (to me, anyway) they are all Steatoda triangulosa. This species is much rarer around Morris than Parasteatoda species, which raises all kinds of questions in my head. Is this representative? Or is my grandson’s house populated with this one species as a fluke? Where are the Parasteatoda? I need a wider sampling!
Also, she didn’t find any mygalomorphs or tarantulas. I may have to send her back with more collecting gear.
Am I being ungrateful?
OK, I can work with what I’ve got. One curious thing is that when I first looked at these, I thought these were strangely funny-looking S. triangulosa — I’ve been peering intently at my lab colony all this time, and had it fixed in my head that they are what all members of this species look like, so suddenly minor variations leap out at me and seem paramount over all the similarities that are saying yes, this is S. triangulosa. I’m going to have to stare some more.
One of the things I’m learning from all this spider work is that there are subtle variations within a species, and that maybe there are also regional differences. I think this old citation I’ve got — by a Derwin or Dorkin, something like that, from 1859 — has a lot to say about that. I should probably pay closer attention to the literature.