I found a happy couple, a pair of Parasteatoda, nestled in a very awkward nook, low to the ground and difficult to photograph. That may be to their benefit though, since it’s nicely sheltered.
They’ve built a nest of flower petals and debris brought up from the ground. It’s fairly elaborate, which means it’s not a shack, it’s a palace by spider standards. The female is down below, the male is hiding up above.
I strongly suspect this is Parasteatoda tabulata, because they’re the ones with a reputation for building refuges in their web. The only way to be sure is to…dissect them and look at details of their anatomy, which seems like a cruel way to break up the happy pair and destroy their hideaway.
I’m going to take a different tack and leave them alone until I see an egg sac. Then I’ll scoop them up, home and all, and put them in a nice roomy cage in my lab with plenty of food and no predators and raise their offspring. Then maybe I’ll dissect a few of their children instead.
Yikes, that took a dark turn.