Guess what my best beloved brought to me?

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.


  1. Ed Seedhouse says

    I guessed “spiders” right away, without looking. Does this prove I am telepathic?

  2. leerudolph says

    I’m pleasantly surprised that the airport security-theater screeners didn’t confiscate the spiders, or worse.

  3. jackal says

    I think we’re all dying to know how one flies with spiders. Checked or carry-on? If checked, how did she make sure they’d have enough air? If carry on, how did she get them past the TSA?

  4. says

    Elaborate, intricate costume with secret compartments, followed by a lot of John Wickian gunplay as she erupted through TSA’s pathetic attempts to restrain her. It was the only way.

  5. jrkrideau says

    I must admit I was not expecting a partridge in a pear tree or even 12 lords-a-leaping.

  6. Ragutis says

    If carry on, how did she get them past the TSA?

    Saw a guy on yewtoob that flew with an octopus in a jar. IIRC, TSA people seemed a mix of fascinated/horrified, but once the water tested OK, he was good.

    At least it ain’t snakes.

  7. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin says the best way to get spiders past goons is, when flying, to do what she does — self-propelled bioflight. Much much less damaging to the environment too, plus one gets target practice in the airborne delivery of semisolid smelly matter, preferably on the tops of hair furor redhats.

    However, if you do use a tin can to fly, then, she says, the best way to get spiders, snakes, and cheeses past the goons is to distract them. Requires a strong stomach, but pack the luggage with hair furor memorabilia, swastikas, and shooty mcshootface literature (an actual shooty mcshootface is not a good idea, she emphasises). Although most goons can read, best if there are lots of pictures of big shooty mcshootfaces held by attractive scantily-clad hair furor redhat-wearing individuals. Also, don’t fly when black.

  8. brain says

    Is carrying spiders on a flight allowed in the US? How do you carry them? Are there regulations?

  9. David C Brayton says

    You should visit my barn next summer (Sonoma county, California). While I’m no expert, there must be at least two dozen species in there. The diversity is really quite amazing.

  10. blf says

    people are going to start mailing you spiders

    On the off-chance someone is considering doing this, do NOT — it’s illegal in the States. From the USPS Publication 52 — Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail:

    525.4 Poisonous Insects and Spiders
    All poisonous insects and all spiders, except scorpions under limited circumstances […], are nonmailable. […]

    Whilst the section’s title is ambiguous, the actual text is clear — “all spiders […] are nonmailable” — not just “poisonous” spiders.

  11. davidc1 says

    Of course we all knew it was going to be spider related ,but real spiders ,i think the trophy wife is too good for you .