Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eastern Parson's Spider

This afternoon when I got home from work I noticed this little spider crawling around in front of the door to the house. I could tell right away it was different than any spider I'd seen before. It had approximately a 3/4 inch legspan, was all black with reddish colored legs, and beautiful white pattern on its abdomen. I photographed it and submitted the photo to spideridentification.org and received an answer very quickly from Lady Aracnophile who identified it as an Eastern Parsons Spider (Herpyllus ecclesiasticus). She even provided a link to bugguide.net where other images of this spider are located. Apparently they are almost identical to the Western Parsons Spider (H. propinquus). To adequately differentiate them you have to look closely at their reproductive organs. I was able to provide an image of the underside of this spider which hopefully helped in accurately identifying this spider.

(No spider was harmed in the taking of this photo)

They get their common name of Parsons Spider from the white markings on the abdomen which are said to resemble the cravat worn by parsons or ministers during the 1800's. This spider is harmless to humans and pets, in fact they are only harmful to the prey they actively hunt, which is commonly other spiders. They do not build webs like many other spiders, instead they are ground spiders that roam around to hunt for their food.  They are voracious eaters and chase their food down and overpower it. They are commonly found in houses, which is where this one was headed when I stopped it for a photo shoot then placed it in the garden.

They will spin silk to create hide-a-ways to retreat to during the day. Silk is also used by this spider to spin egg sacs, that the female will guard until the spiderlings emerge. 

I've been actively studying and photographing insects and spiders for 7 years and just when I think I can't possibly find anything I haven't previously seen, I am pleasantly surprised by creatures like this parsons spider. Just goes to show, when it come to the tiny majority, there is no end to the wonderful discoveries to be found.

12 comments:

  1. Six years ago, on a subfreezing January day in Frederick, Marland, I rolled a log over to see what I could find underneath. I found two of these spiders. They were moving very slowly trying to find new hiding places. I took one back home to Austin for identification. I had 3 or 4 live spiders with me, and the TSA agent waved me on, allowing me to take them on the plane.

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  2. That is amazing that they didn't try to keep you from taking them with you. I am constantly amazed at the different species of insects and spiders I find around our farm. This is such a beautiful species too.

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  3. Wonderful! That's why I love insect macro photography so much. You never run out of subjects!

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  4. Hi there Moe, long time to see around here. I hope everything is going well with you. I am sure you are like me and anxious to get out and enjoy the warming weather.
    I am absolutely hooked on macro photography. I love it, and you are right there is never a shortage of interesting subjects.

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  5. Nice! I find these in my house in Wichita Kansas, along with brown recluse, wolf spiders, and jumping spiders. Thank you for helping me identify it. I'm tempted to let him go in the house where he can chase down the recluse.

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  6. You're welcome and glad to help. I had to laugh though when I saw this comment, because this morning I was taking a bath and was lounged back relaxing when I felt something crawling on my leg UNDER the water, when I looked it was one of these spiders. It startled me and I lifted my leg and flicked him across the room. It gathered its wits and roamed off into my daughters room.....oopsie :o)

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  7. I just found one of these! So creepy looking. I was laying down with my daughter tonight and it ran up the curtains. My first thought was Omfg!. But instead of a smushing, I got it into a cup and put him outside. So glad I found this to know it isn't poisonous. Thank you. The last one, was eaten by my cat. Sorry.

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  8. I found one and captured it in a clear tub with lid. I had it in there for a couple days before i got around to looking it up. It ended up weaving a sac of what looks like eggs and a yellow under layer. I put a cricket in and instantly was weaved in next to the sac. one question... How many and how long before they hatch?

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  9. I kill as many spiders as I can... they are nasty creatures... they make me want to vomit!

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  10. My husband was bitten 14 times over a 3 day stretch by a Parson spider. We live in Michigan. We were told that if it had been our 5 month old daughter and not my husband that she would be very sick. But the bites raised up and itched really bad. And from where he got bit it started spreading all over the place. I am not sure why I did not get bit. But I am happy that we found her. My husband had me put her outside. The next night she way back in our house again. I attached a piece of short thread to her middle so I could Idenify her again. And here she was. Not in our bed this time but our daughters. So we were told to get rid of her.

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  11. thank you for the ID on this little bugger. i rescued a hibernating one from getting crunched during a move. it warmed up and woke up on me so i've got it in a little critter keeper until the weather warms up.. it's taking a drink from a drip of water i gave it as i type :)

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