False Widow Spider under a microscope

Spider Under A Microscope

I’ve been walking in the forests and countryside, digging under logs and behind bark, but there’s nothing to find. I think most of them die in winter. The eggs and pupae are all that’s left of them until they hatch in spring. Others hibernate deep inside tree trunks and caves, making them hard to find.

Some insects even freeze over winter and thaw out in spring and return to life. They either tolerate their body fluids turning into ice, or they have internal mechanisms which prevent ice from forming. Here’s a Wikipedia page about insect winter ecology if you ever wondered what happens to insects during winter.

Spiders In Winter

A number of spiders have come into my apartment to escape the cold. They have nothing to eat. They just hang around for half the year until spring. Actually I gave them a little crumb of chicken liver pate, and two of them ate it! You can do things like that when you live alone.

I gave them each a turn under my USB microscope. Almost all of the pictures were taken on low magnification. High magnification is good for dead creatures that you can maneuver around, but when they’re alive and moving, you get better pictures if you keep the magnification low.

You can take good pictures with a high end SLR camera with a macro lens. It will cost you close to $1000, or you can just use a $20 USB microscope which gives you pretty good results.

Yellow Sac Spider

I took this video of a Yellow Sac Spider that was living under a window sill.

Diet: Insects and chicken liver pate.

There are some claims that Yellow Sac Spiders have a fairly toxic venom. However, it seems the main danger of these spiders is that they like to block up the vents on fuel tanks of Mazda 6’s. Not Mazda 5’s, and definitely not Fords. Only Mazda 6’s.

False Widow Spider

This False Widow spider was crawling around on my ceiling. It’s also sometimes called a Rabbit Hutch Spider because they are commonly found in outdoor rabbit hutches.

I took a bunch of pictures and stitched them together to form two montages. Unfortunately the spider moved around too much for me to get a complete image. One of the montages is the main image at the top of this post.

Incomplete montage of a False Widow
I took a bunch of photos of a False Widow and stitched them together to form an incomplete montage.

False Widows are mildly venomous. They can’t do much to you. In fact, you’ve probably been bitten by various spiders in your sleep during your life. Hopefully not by a Black Widow spider. I think you’d remember that.

Spiders are much more scared of you than you are of them. I’m always puzzled at the fear people have of spiders. It’s like Godzilla stamping around Tokyo, and then freaking out in fear when it sees a single human!

False Widow in defensive position
A False Widow in a defensive position.
Underside of a False Widow spider
The False Widow on it’s back for a moment, curled up in a defensive ball.

Unidentified House Spider

I wasn’t able to identify this spider. It was very small. Maybe a young False Widow. I don’t know.

Unidentified house spider
A tiny house spider I couldn’t identify.
Dark house spider
This house spider is small enough that it almost fits completely into the microscopic photo.
Spider pedipalps under a microscope
You can see the pedipalps and eyes quite clearly with a microscope.

Cellar Spider

Of course the most common spider you find indoors is a Cellar Spider, also called a Daddy Long Legs.

Cellar Spiders are completely harmless, unless you’re an ant or another spider. Then you’re their favorite food.

A Cellar Spider under a microscope.
A Cellar Spider under a microscope.

Do you see it’s missing leg? Second one from the front, on the left.

Stump of a spider's missing leg
The stump of a Cellar Spider’s missing leg.

Although Cellar Spiders are harmless to humans, they hunt and eat other deadly spiders like Black Widows.

Daddy Long Legs under microscope
A side view of a Daddy Long Legs.
Cellar Spider curled up in a defensive ball.
Cellar Spider curled up in a defensive ball.

If you ever see one carrying a big white ball in it’s mouth. That’s it’s sack of eggs. Lucky you!

Abdomen of Cellar Spider
The abdomen of a Cellar Spider under a microscope.
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