Can someone identify this odd looking spider?

Can someone identify this odd looking spider?

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I found this spider crawling on my tile floor. We live in rural central Virginia. I've found spider species with similar looks but nothing exactly like this. Its size was less than 1 inch. Can anyone identify it?

I agree with JulPal's comment from August. It looks very much like a male Thiodina (now renamed Colonus) sylvanus. As with many Salticids, the females look rather different, and it turns out that there is apparently a similar species of Colonus in the area, which can be distinguished in the field by the fact that the white mark on the carapace is not a block so much as a thick longitudinal line. I attach an image from Tree of Life, with the link below:

It is Tarantula which comprise a group of large and often hairy arachnids belonging to the Theraphosidae family of spiders

This post is the fifth in an ongoing series on arachnids. Previously, this series addressed whipspiders, hooded tickspiders, pseudoscorpions, and harvestmen. Additional posts on other weird, often overlooked or neglected groups of these creepy crawlies to follow. For a related chelicerate, but as far as science can tell, not an arachnid, see the post on sea spiders.

This group of fleet-footed arachnids is known by many names across the globe. Wind scorpion. Camel spider. Sun spider. Sun scorpion. Unintelligible screaming and cursing. All of these refer to members of an enigmatic order of arachnids Solifugae. The name of this order, derived from Latin, means “those that flee from the sun”, an acknowledgement of their habit of chasing shadows in an attempt to stay cool in their predominantly hot, sunny, and arid native habitats. Despite their frequently used common names which identify them as some sort of breed of spider or scorpion, solifugids (a more accurate identifier of the arachnids within the Order Solifugae) are most certainly a distinct, separate animal from either group. They may have the long, athletic legs and noticeable jaws of spiders (Order Araneae), and the elongated body, coloration, and desert aesthetic of the scorpions (Order Scorpiones), but the 1,000 species or so of solifugid occupy their own lonesome twig on the arthropod family tree. It is generally thought that Solifugae is a part of a larger subdivision of arachnids, called Dromopoda, which also includes scorpions, pseudoscorpions, and harvestmen (daddy longlegs) specifically, combined analyses of the genetic relatedness and shared morphological features of these critters have also linked scorpions, pseudoscorpions, and solifugids together in a grouping dubbed “Novogenuata.” Although, comparative studies on the male genital system have also suggested that solifugids might have a more complex evolutionary history, showing more similarities with mites and ticks in some ways than with their supposed close relatives, the pseudoscorpions. This confusion of what makes a solifugid a solifugid, and its relationship with the rest of the arachnids, would be greatly assisted by fossil evidence, but the fossil record for the Solifugae is pitifully scant, with a few dubious, incomplete, vaguely solifugid-like specimens dating back to about 330 million years ago…and only a few instances of unambiguous solifugids showing up about 300, 115, and 50 million years ago. Most importantly, the earliest stages of this group’s evolution are currently lost to us.

Whatever they are in the grand architecture of the arachnid clan, they are widespread, gravitating towards hot and dry regions of the subtropics and tropics the world over, omitting their presence from only the continents of Antartica and, surprisingly, considering they would fit right the fuck in there…Australia. And wherever they make their residence, they have a very powerful effect on the humans that encounter them, and they have for an incredibly long time. Solifugids, to put it lightly, have an “imposing” appearance and demeanor, with their huge, sharp, pinching jaws, sizable mass, and ungodly overland speed. Consistent first impressions full of everything ranging from a bad case of the all-overs to panicked, wild boot-stomping has undoubtedly earned them immediate recognition as a being assuredly, terrifyingly divergent from other many-legged beasties since antiquity, with the Greeks dubbing the monstrous arachnid “phalangion”, decidedly separate from “arachne”, the spider. More recently, there are accounts of soldiers stationed in North Africa during both World Wars who would pass the time by pitting captive solifugids against each other, or against a scorpion (because why not, I guess), in a fight to the death in possibly the smallest, ugliest, and leggiest gladiatorial showdown of all time.

I’m thinking a 6-inch tall Joaquin Phoenix will give the scorpion a thumbs down.

These brutal spectacles involving dueling “jerrymanders”, another name for the solifugids, were enthusiastically gambled upon, because of course they were. Also, in regards to the aforementioned moniker, if there’s any animal that I could envision being spiritually associated with the deceiptful, ethically impoverished, slimy act of manipulating voting districts, it’s the solifugid…an animal that looks like it would skitter up your leg and chew and burrow its way into your taint if you so much as looked at it sideways.

If you are a solifugid reading this right now (small chance, but you never know), I have to apologize for the upcoming dosage of Truth y’all ain’t pretty. Spiders and scorpions at least have some measure of gracefulness and an aura of venomous allure…solifugids look like someone tried to cross-breed a centipede with a walrus, and then set it on fire when it came out looking like damnation itself. It is this severe case of “face-made-for-radio” that has allowed these animals to continue to be, to this very day, viscerally upsetting to the point of inspiring mythology and fanciful stories. Although solifugids are routinely found in the American Southwest (where they are called “sun spiders”), many troops (particularly U.S. troops) stationed in the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War of the 1990s and more recently during the Iraq War, encountered these arachnids for the first time…and it wasn’t long before tall tales sent home, and subsequently inflated through the power of the Internet, exaggerated solifugids to preposterous heights. Urban legends in the form of obnoxious chain emails and memes floated around online message boards about these animals cast them as having supernatural capabilities…running fast enough to keep up alongside military vehicles and capable of leaping from the ground and onto the chests of full grown men, screeching and hissing, clacking their drool-slathered pincers (is there any other way?). The name “camel spider” was commonly tied to a claimed habit of disemboweling sleeping camels under the cover of night with the aid of a paralytic venom. The icing on this sci-fi monster cake was the assertion that they would attack and paralyze soldiers, and lay their eggs inside the skin of the unwitting human incubator, ala parasitoid wasps (or Alien…that too), only to have the babies explosively emerge from inside the poor soldier weeks later like a bunch of bloody confetti erupting out of a piñata.

Feeding into this are the highly-circulated photographs sent back to the States, often with the solifugid in forced perspective to appear larger than they are in-person, or conducting some act of eight-legged, predatory horror upon a prey item….conveniently with no real sense of scale.

Agreed. Optical illusions keep me up at night.

…and then ask you to give a public speech with inadequate time to prepare. Horrifying!

Of course, just about all of this is hyperbolic nonsense. Solifugids are intimidating, yes, but they pose absolutely no danger to camels or any other large mammal, humans included. This reputation has left the proud, albeit unsightly, Order Solifugae unfairly maligned. I’ve drafted (below) what I think is a more appropriate meme depicting the reality of the unjustly despised, feared, and ostracized solifugid, about which I’m confident the rest of the Internet will give approximately no fucks.

The truth is, solifugids aren’t a hyperaggressive, ancient evil, scouring an exotic, desert landscape in a lustful search for the least leathery leatherneck neck to sink its fangs into…though they certainly look the part. What they really are, however, are an active group of predators that have been fine-tuned by the selective pressures of their harsh environment to produce some incredible, fundamentally badass characteristics. Solifugids have a unique biology that deserves a fair shake at deconstruction and illumination.

Solifugids follow the general arachnid bauplan fairly conservatively, with two well-defined main tagmata (body segments) the prosoma, at the front, containing the “head” and connection points for the eight pairs of legs, and the opisthoma, the meaty, egg-shaped abdomen at the rear. The most obvious, and frightening, distinguishing feature of these animals is their chelicerae…the duel pair of vertically-oriented pruning shears that engulf their face, often reaching sizes larger than the entire prosoma itself. In many other arachnid groups, chelicerae serve as the humble articulating mouthparts, tucked neatly around the mouth hole and mostly out of sight. But in solifugids, the chelicerae are expanded into huge cutting tools, lined with knobby teeth-like projections, resembling a pair of devilish eagle beaks. The entire “head” region of the prosoma, encapsulated by a raised, rounded dome, essentially serves as nothing more than the powerhouse for the chelicerae, and is packed with bulging sets of muscles used to manipulate the double sets of jaws. In fact, the characteristic hump that contains these muscles at the base of the chelicerae is the origin for the “camel spider” name, not any fallacious murder of cigarette company mascots.

Joe has nothing to fear from solifugids. Emphysema, on the other hand…

If you’re thinking that with all that special muscle devotion and attachment, these chelicerae would be pretty powerful, you’d be right on the money. Solifugids don’t possess the fictional paralytic venom of urban legend to take down prey…the serrated bolt cutters grafted onto their face do just fucking fine. Solifugids are rapacious predators, with incredibly high metabolisms, and a need to track down, capture, and process food quickly. Their ecology, diet, and physiology have led to the evolution of mouth-bound machinery designed to carve and mulch up prey as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is not dissimilar from the likely reason for the evolution of specialized teeth for food processing in mammals comparatively high metabolisms need to be able to acquire and break down fuel sources immediately and completely. In the same way, solifugids have become eating machines, rapidly devouring anything they can pin down…which is a large number of things. Larger species, sometimes reaching several inches in length, aren’t limited to the numerous insects in their equatorial habitats, and frequently tear into smaller vertebrates with the unrestrained enthusiasm of a sugar-high 6-year old, armed with scissors, on paper snowflake day in arts and crafts. Lizards, mice, baby birds…none are safe from Greedy Gonzales and his Terrible Twins. The chelicerae are more than robust enough to splinter more fragile things…like bones. For this reason, humans that unwisely pester solifugids and end up getting bitten report intense pain and often the drawing of a great deal of blood most bites from arachnids and insects hurt due to injected proteins from the saliva, but solifugids provide pain with pure force and physical damage.

Humans have nothing to fear, really, from solifugids. But if you’re anything smaller than a baseball? Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

With rapid back and forth rending of flesh and viscera, the solifugid uses their “cheliceral mill” to pulverize animals as large as itself (not that hard to accomplish when half your goddamn body is jaws), and slurps up the resulting juices and gelatinized remains.

Jesus, man! All he wanted to do was save you 15% or more on your car insurance!

The chelicerae may be excellent tools for bloodily dismembering still living, kicking, and squealing prey, but they also have other important roles to play in the life of the solifugid.

Although solifugids tend to tolerate long periods of extreme heat and aridity better than other arachnid groups, they make life easier on themselves by avoiding some of the harshness of the desert by getting the hell away from the baking solar radiation. They do this primarily by being largely nocturnal, but also by taking cover in the day by seeking out shadows, or digging burrows. Of course, since solifugids haven’t invented shovels (yet), they use the next best thing…their monstrous chelicerae. It probably isn’t surprising that something that has utility in sawing through muscle and bone might also be good for sawing through soil. The solifugids claw at the loose, dry dirt with their mouthparts, only turning away from the laborious activity to clear out their excavation of what they’ve dug out. This is a method used by many burrowing animals, including naked mole rats, which dig their network of burrows using their sharp incisor teeth (and have actually evolved a flaps of skin that keep their mouths from filling with dirt as they work). Observe this industrious little fellow below:

The chelicerae are also used in defensive measures against predators even nastier than they are, and it’s not in the way you think. While, yes, they can and do use their jaws to strike out and give a well-placed nip at an attacker, the chelicerae also have a role in a warning system to would-be fuck-with-ers. This is done through the generation of noise through vibration of physical components of the interior surfaces of the chelicerae against one another. Solifugid chelicerae can be thought of musical instruments of sorts.

Ah, nothing like the sweet sound of the guillotine guitar.

This generation of sound from vibrating body parts is known as “stridulation” and it is common in other arthropods, like insects. It’s perhaps familiar to most folks as the origin of the “chirping” of crickets and grasshoppers, which is caused by the running of the surfaces of the wings across one another, and allowing comb-like structures to contact and rub along each other, producing the sound. But stridulation is also found in numerous groups of beetles, as well as arachnids like spiders and our lovely solifugids. All you need are two body parts, known as “stridulatory organs”, to rub against each other to make the noise. This often depends on something scraping rapidly along a finely-ridged surface, generating vibration as it does so. This is the same kind of action that allows fingernails to produce sound when running along a washboard, or for the needle to relay embedded musical recording information as it moves along the tracks on a vinyl record (sound which is then amplified).

The interior surfaces of the solifugid chelicerae are equipped with two major stridulation components a plate covered in microscopic ridges (a “file”) and a set of stout, forward-facing bristles. The sound is generated when the chelicerae are pressed together and slide past each other, causing the bristles to drag down the file on either chelicerae….and it ends up sounding like this:

While that may sound like the world’s most perturbed Velcro sneaker, scientists believe it has a role in keeping solifugids safely uneaten. Squeaking produced by solifugids in laboratory settings seems to occur in response to perceived threats, and is acoustically similar to the noises made by other arthropods that use warning noises against predators. It has been suggested that solifugids stridulate as a form of bluffing. Solifugids aren’t toxic, and don’t create any venom, but it is highly advantageous to convince predators that they are. One species of solifugid in the genus Galeodes from west-central Asia might use its hissing stridulations as a way of mimicking the noises made by venomous snakes that it shares its habitat with, like the blunt-nosed viper (Macrovipera lebetina) or the Siberian pit viper (Gloydius halys). If you have a bag full of nothing in the face of immediate danger, it might be a worthwhile idea to confuse your enemy into thinking you’re someone who does…and a local, highly-venomous snake is a damn good place to start.

The abilities afforded by the chelicerae don’t stop with stridulation either, because apparently these things are like a damn Leatherman of the arachnid world. Male solifugids have structures on the tops of their chelicerae called “flagella” that look like long, swept-back horns or rigid tentacles. Seeing as how only males possess them, it is thought they have some sort of role to play in solifugid sex, but to be honest, no one really knows what the hell they do. I suppose figuring that out would require researchers to get up close and personal to the gnashing jaws of a sexually ravenous solifugid. I mean, I understand why they haven’t quite unlocked that secret yet because have you SEEN those fucking things?

Aaaaaand fuck it, I’m going home.

So, obviously, in solifugids, the head is more or less a battery of powerful tools for survival in the barren desert wastes. Just the chelicerae alone function as steak knives, a backhoe, a furious kazoo, and…maybe something related to sweet, sinful, stomach-churning, solifugid sexual satisfaction? But the legs and body of these critters are equally important and full of exquisite adaptations worth addressing.

Scorpions and solifugids are close relatives, and have both become masters of the desert biome over hundreds of millions of years. However, their strategy for survival here is very different. Scorpions have a suite of adaptations to minimize their output of energy and water. Many species can hunker down under a rock and remain in a type of stasis without eating or drinking for very long periods of time. They move across the desert deliberately, and under the cool of night, and use their venomous sting as a conservative means of procuring food. Paralyze and kill the quarry immediately, so that you can be sure it can’t get away or put up a fight, and subsequently cost you the precious energy. Solifugids took the opposite approach, and live by a mantra of MOVE MOVE MOVE EAT EAT EAT. Solifugids, as I’ve mentioned, have incredibly high metabolisms, and compared to scorpions, ludicrously high growth rates. They live their lives on the fast track, taking the strategy of “getting big quickly and reproducing before the desert has the chance to kill you.” Solifugids are all about running around and killing soft, vulnerable things, and outside of their gigantic chelicerae, they have key adaptations for sprinting around at blinding speeds, maximizing each kill’s energy yield, and making damned sure every meal and mating attempt goes according to plan.

Understanding how solifugids navigate through their world is key to understanding how they manage to survive and consume so much in a place with so little resources to offer. Solifugids only use three of their four pairs of legs for locomotion. The first pair of legs, up near the head, are thinner and more delicate, and are usually held just off the ground and act like antennae, rapidly trailing and sensing the environment via touch as the solifugid motors along. In front of these legs are a pair of pedipalps, appendages that look like legs, but are not, and are more often associated with the mouthparts in arachnids (the pedipalps of scorpions, for example, have been modified into the pinching claws). In solifugids, they are huge and elongated, and often look so much like legs that people regularly report sightings of solifugids as “big, ten-legged spiders.” These pedipalps are also instrumental in sensing the path directly in front of the solifugid. With three pairs of appendages powerfully propelling the animal forward, and two pairs elevated in the air, the solifugid is like some kind of arachnid centaur.

And much like the mythical beast, solifugids are renowned for their elegance, dignity, and…er…beauty.

Solifugids move about in this way insanely quickly, flying over the hot sands at 10 mph (16 kph)…which is quite a feat for an animal smaller than an iPhone. While there are other invertebrates that, for their size, are faster than solifugids (for example, the pint-sized tiger beetles come to mind), nothing without bones really comes close to these speeds, which are close to what an adult human can accomplish at a sprint. So how do they manage to do this?

The answer may come from how they fuel their bodies with oxygen. Solifugids, along with the Opiliones (harvestman/daddy longlegs) and the pseudoscorpions, don’t have book lungs, which are the typical respiratory tissues found in arachnids. Instead, like harvestmen and pseudoscorpions, they have a network of small tubes running in and out of their bodies that allow the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to occur. This system of tubes (“trachea”) are very highly developed in solifugids, much more so than in other invertebrates with tracheal systems. Solifugids also have multiple pairs of spiracles (holes) that pump large volumes of air in and out of this network with great efficiency. These bastards are able to visit blistering, swift death upon everything that creeps and crawls under the desert sun because when evolution was passing out engines, they got the 8.0 liter, quad turbocharger, 64-valve, 1,300 horsepower version. Solifugids aren’t so much animals as they are wire cutters super-glued to a rocket.

This constant incredible athleticism means that the solifugid must carbohydrate load 24/7, and make sure that if it runs down lunch, it better come out on top. Part of this is facilitated by the vice-like grip of its chelicerae, but that requires getting close enough to chomp down. This is where the pedipalps come in, which have eversible suction pads on the tips. These little structures stick right on the prey in mid-chase, allowing the solifugid to get a grip and pull the hapless victim straight into the torturous embrace of its esurient maw.

To get an idea of what this would be like, imagine you are a lone agama lizard, taking a night stroll on the flanks of sand dune in the middle of Sahara in search of a wayward beetle or two to snack on. Then, you hear something clambering over the ridge of the sand dune…and it’s approaching fast. Really fast. Before you can even react, a hideous vessel, festooned in flailing jaws and legs, clears the top of the dune, and races down after you. You can’t get your footing on the loose sand in time, but the solifugid, dancing on the shifting surface with its light, hairy feet, has no problem at all. You turn to flee, and just as you do, terror grips you as you see those fucking toilet plungers of death eagerly reaching out towards you. You skitter down the dune, sand flying, your little lizard heart pounding. The solifugid, aided by gravity, gets closer, bearing down on you, a vast tank driving a flurry of clacking car compactor claws, slicked with saliva, horrifically screeching as they rub past one another. Suddenly, you feel one of the suction cups adhere to your scaly side with a sickening wet pop, and you are yanked backwards. The sound of the rustling pincers to your back ceases right before they come down on your belly with tremendous pressure. You let out a pitiful yelp as the solifugid silently, coldly, articulates a massive jaw over your head. It easily collapses your skull, and everything goes black.

That’s the day to day reality for anything small sharing the desert with these animals.

Those nifty little suction pads? Yeah, those are perfectly suited for grabbing flying insects out of the goddamned air. Solifugids will take and eat anything they damn well please. Flying away only prevents the inevitable in the desert.

Solifugids are apparently so voracious, that they are known for eating themselves into a bloated stupor, so swollen with food they can’t even move. Their soft, stretchable abdomens expand with liquefied food like a water balloon attached to a sink faucet. This allows them to obtain as much food energy as possible in a very short amount of time, a skill I learned and exploited whilst around free food in my college years.

In addition to those weird flagella on male chelicerae, there are other organs adorning the Solifugae that are a complete mystery to science. I’m specifically talking about a set of organs on the underside of the last pair of legs that jut out from the exoskeleton and are shaped like ghostly white ginkgo leaves, or mushrooms.

Whoa. You, uh…should have a doctor look at that, bro.

They are called “malleoli” and while scientists are pretty sure they are sensory organs, they don’t really have any idea what they are sensing, or how they are doing it. The odd, fan-shaped structures might be sensitive to vibrations traveling through the ground, or to chemicals in the air, but science, as of right now, has given the colorless, gummy umbrellas a collective shrug.

If a solifugid manages to violently consume its way out of childhood and grow to full, reproductive age, it may be struck by the urge to settle down and have a clutch of baby camel spiders all of its own. But reproduction is easier said than done in the world of the solifugid. These are purely solitary hunters, and because of this, mating opportunities don’t exactly spring up naturally like they do in socially-competent humans (er, well, most humans).

“I walk a lonely road, the only one that I have ever known….”

If you were a solifugid, being a loner for much of your life would actually be a very wise idea. You see, it turns out that an animal that instinctively looks at anything in its own size range as a meal doesn’t tend to play nice with other solifugids. These creatures are not big on long term relationships…or short term relationships…or the equivalent of a coffee date…….or anything. What they (and by they, I mean the female solifugids) are a fan of is ripping apart and devouring anything that tries to mate with it. That unstoppable appetite is indiscriminate, and well-meaning gentleman callers don’t get a free pass. Solifugid mating protocol is made exceedingly complicated by the ever-present threat of sexual cannibalism…which in reality is nowhere near as hot as it sounds, pervert.

From the perspective of a male solifugid, female solifugids are gargantuan monsters twice their size, insane with insatiable hunger, and able to cleave them in two in a fraction of a second. But…they also want to have sex with that gargantuan monster, beautiful creature that she is. In order to get around this seemingly insurmountable dilemma, in many species of solifugid, the males have acquired a number of special adaptations, both physical and behavioral, that allow them to sow their seed and make it out alive.

A conventional approach, used by many species of solifugid, is for the male to excrete a spermatophore (a dense sperm packet), which is then placed on the ground near the female. The male then “courts” the female by some very cautious massaging and dancing around. This is less “taking the lady out for a nice meal” and more “dangling a steak in front a tiger’s face.” Once the hungry hungry horror is lured into the perfect position, the male takes a deep breath through his tracheal spiracles, and does the unthinkable. He grapples the female, holding onto her back tightly with the suction pads on his pedipalps, and supplexes her onto the spermatophore, which he then plasters into her genital opening. This is like if you needed to stick a wad of gum on the belly of a grizzly bear, and you tried to do so by tackling it from behind and attempting to pull it to the ground, equipped with nothing but a couple of suction tip Nerf gun darts to increase your grip. After the objective is complete, he lets his immeasurably pissed “partner” go and books it in the opposite direction as fast as his post-coital legs can carry him.

Males in some other species, especially ones with a high degree of sexual cannibalism, have to struggle even more to pass on their genetic material. Observations of mating behavior in species of Galeodes and Gluvia, in which sexual cannibalism runs rampant, have illuminated a complicated and life-threatening bit of “coercive” copulation that males must endure. And by “coercive” I mean “forced.” In order to subdue the female long enough to slap some baby batter in her genital opening, the male employs a bit more than just a fancy wrestling move. He approaches carefully, with or without some strokes from his pedipalp, and then lunges, chomps down on her legs and abdomen, chews at her genitals, hooks and locks her hind legs with his own, and after she’s pinned, he transfers the spermatophore. There is no cuddling afterwards.

When solifugid children ask their parents where babies come from, the response they receive is a flat, solemn “Pain, child. Pain. All of life is pain.” And then the parents decapitate the young and feed upon its kidneys, because, you know…solifugids.

Modified from Fig. 2 in Coercive copulation in two sexually cannibalistic camel-spider species (Arachnida: Solifugae). M. Hrušková-Martišová, S. Pekár, and T. Bilde. 2010. Journal of Zoology. Vol 282: 2, pp 91-99

These encounters can get so heated that males can inflict substantial injuries upon the female, including puncture wounds, scrapes, and occasionally the severing of an entire limb. These kinds of “love amputations” are apparently just a ho hum part of the savage life of the solifugid.

Mating is so treacherous for male solifugids that they’ve actually evolved a series of physical adaptations to make their screw-jitsu moves that much more successful. For one, males in these sexually vicious species tend to have proportionally longer legs and small bodies, allowing for greater agility and an increased reach, which helps in keeping Princess’s unholy gob of horrors as far away as possible. Males also have stronger, stouter, pokier spines along their pedipalps, which are likely used to hold on to Miss Buckin’ Bronco until the deed is done.
Yes, solifugid sex is so violent that only males that have a natural, morphological edge (like built-in crampons, for fuck’s sake) in going head to head with the most fearsome thing in their world (a hungry, full-grown female solifugid) are able to send their genes into the next generation.

Solifugids are undoubtedly ferocious predators. They kill and eat almost everything they meet up with. Insects. Spiders. Lizards. Snakes. Baby mice. Bats. Birds. Friends. Family. If it can be caught, they’re on it, gobbling up as much as they can in their short lives (estimated at only about a year or two maximum). They are the baddest motherfuckers to scan the seas of sand, but unlike what the urban legends purport, their sphere of terror is limited to the realm of the diminutive.
Despite the impressive role they play as tenacious predators in their ecosystem, we don’t really know much about them compared to other arachnid groups. Hopefully, in years’ time, more people will know of solifugids for their very real, very fascinating biology, and not relegate the order to the isolation of limited inquiry, superstition, and misunderstanding.

© Jacob Buehler and “Shit You Didn’t Know About Biology”, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jacob Buehler and “Shit You Didn’t Know About Biology” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I'm Not Male. I'm Not Female. Please Don't Ask Me About My Junk.

You'd be surprised how many people ask me about my crotch. It's a lot. I have had people ask me which "parts" I have, how they look, what I plan to do with them. I don't run around with a sign that says "ask me about my crotch," but as soon as I bring up my gender identity to certain people, all of a sudden it appears on the discussion table like a highly inappropriate Seamless order. Yes, even in New York. Yes, even among seemingly "progressive" people. And it stems from the fact that most people you meet simply do not know much about non-binary gender identities.

It usually goes like this:

"So you don't feel like a boy or girl?"

I have had this exact conversation at least once a week, every week, since coming out publicly in November. It's not one I mind it just gets repetitive, and occasionally a little insulting if the conversation leads to questions like, "So you're just trying to be different?" With trans visibility increasing more quickly than ever, non-binary gender identity is coming into focus, too.

And it's often misunderstood.

On Tuesday, The New York Times Magazine published a brief etymology of the words "they" and "them" as pronouns for people who identify as genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, gender-noncomforming, and other genders. The piece is another stride in acknowledging those who do not feel they fit on the current male/female binary&mdashand another piece in the growing conversation surrounding gender in society.

As someone who identifies with gender-neutral pronouns, I was amped to see The Times bring the discussion onto the radar of readers who may not know there are even people out there who don't identify as male or female. I've been out for four months, but I've known I'm not cisgender for the last five or so years (probably longer, if I'm honest, depending on how you interpret some odd childhood habits).

Here are some of questions I've frequently been asked since coming out:

Aren't you just born with your gender?

While gender and sex are frequently used interchangeably, the two do not mean the same thing. Your sex relates to your biology, both physiological and anatomical, which often influences how you're treated in society (example: the enforcing of gender roles), but it is not the same as gender.

According to the World Health Organization, gender is "the socially constructed characteristics of women and men." It goes on to emphasize the importance of sensitivity to "different identities that do not necessarily fit into binary male and female sex categories."

What's the difference between a non-binary and a binary identity?

The gender binary separates those who identify as male or female, simple as that. Non-binary genders, however, don't fit neatly within these two&mdashthey can be a combination of male and female, a fluid back-and-forth, or totally outside of the binary. Cisgender people, on the other hand, are folks whose identities align with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Note: "Non-binary" is an imperfect catchall for any gender outside of female and male, but it's what I'll primarily use in this rundown for simplicity's sake.

Does this mean you don't look female or male?

A common misconception is that all non-binary people are androgynous, but that isn't the case. The way you present yourself (gender expression) and the way you identify can be connected, but they are not necessarily dependent on one another.

I do not identify as a woman, but the above photos show you that I present fairly feminine, meaning most people assume I am a cisgender woman until I inform them otherwise. I keep my hair long because I prefer a lob cut. I don't shave my legs. I wear dresses once in a while, and I play with makeup every day because it's literally my job (I'm the Beauty Editor of

At the same time, I know people who identify as genderqueer, agender, genderfluid, and non-binary who have beards and wax their legs. I know others who sculpt their faces with makeup and prefer suits. I know some who wear no makeup at all and prefer short hair&mdashall sorts of expressions that depend wholly on the individual.

Are non-binary people considered transgender?

There's actually not a standardized answer for this. While non-binary people often get shuffled into the transgender category, some people who are non-binary do not identify as transgender, while others do.

Does this mean you're gay?

Nope. Your sexual orientation and your gender identity are separate. A transwoman who dated primarily women earlier in life would not necessarily start being attracted to men simply because she had come out as a woman. I'm queer and attracted to people of various genders&mdashand have, in fact, dated several straight-identifying people.

I keep my hair long. I don't shave my legs. I wear dresses once in a while, and I play with makeup every day because it's literally my job.

How do I know which pronouns to use for someone?

Ask! It's the quickest and most reliable way to determine someone's pronouns. I like to keep mine in my Twitter bio for visibility. Some people use they and them, like me, while others use ze and zir, xe and xem, or ze and hir. There are so many alternatives. Some non-binary people simply utilize he and him or she and her, too, so again, it's always best to ask.

But how do you use they, their, and they in reference to a single person?

Using these words can feel a little odd at first. When I came out to my team at work, I gave them examples to clarify how my preferred pronouns are used to make the transition easier.

Example 1: Catherine is a great musician, they should start a band.

Example 2: I can't get a hold of Jesse&mdashcan somebody call them for me?

Example 3: Peter loves their dog so much.

That sounds like a lot of work. Can't we just use the old ones?

Yeah, nah. It's really not difficult, and it's pretty annoying when people claim it is.

Imagine your name is Jack, but every time your boss speaks to you, they call you Jim, or Jennifer, or James. Or if you're a man and someone keeps calling you "Mrs." It may feel uncomfortable, or at least inaccurate. It's equally, if not more, frustrating to be constantly labeled as somebody else with regard to gender, so it's very helpful when people actually listen and act respectfully. If you can learn somebody's name, you can learn their pronouns.

What if I mess up and call someone the wrong pronoun?

Do your best! It can and will be initially awkward to misgender someone, but putting in effort to learn and get accustomed to a person's preferred pronouns is the best way to show you respect their identity.

So. which bathroom do you use?

Well, I would prefer to safely use whichever one is most readily available, as would most people, though certain lawmakers and general assholes would love to see that outlawed. When forced to choose between a men's room and a women's room, I typically use the women's restroom because it's the one that will garner the least amount of attention, negative or otherwise.

Everyone is different, of course, but the general consensus is that trans and non-binary people would just like to use the bathroom, period, with no bullying, threats of violence, or laws imposing our ability to do so.

Is it ever okay to ask non-binary people about "which parts" they have?

Just gonna go with a hard "no" on this one, though it's shocking how many people think it's okay to ask someone about what's going on in their pants. It would be weird if someone at a party spontaneously asked you about your junk, right? So maybe don't ask your trans and non-binary friends and acquaintances what's up with theirs. Thanks in advance.

Spider Research

Because of media hyperbole and anxiety-filled stories by the general public extolling the horrors associated with brown recluse spiders, people are very interested in knowing if the spiders they find are brown recluses. Although it is true that a brown recluse has a violin pattern, many non-arachnologists creatively misinterpret many markings on spiders as "violins" and feel that they have found recluse spiders. Therefore, if you can learn to identify your spider as NOT a recluse, you can relieve your worries. You won't be able to tell what it is (and please don't send them to me for identification because due to shift in the California economy, I no longer provide these services) but you will at least know that it is not a recluse spider.

Several important things:

    to see if you live in an area that is supposed to have recluse spiders. If you do not live in any of the colored areas in the map, then it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that you have a recluse spider. It is POSSIBLE but incredibly unlikely.
  1. Because so many people have mistaken markings on a spider as violins, this is NOT a reliable characteristic for a non-arachnologist. You need to look at the eye pattern.
  2. Even if you have a recluse, bites from them are extremely rare, despite all the stories. Many of the really graphic nasty wounds you see on the internet as recluse bites can also be other conditions like necrotizing bacteria and pyoderma gangrenosum. Ninety percent of brown recluse bites are not medically significant, heal very nicely often without medical. intervention and treatment for most brown recluse bites is simple first aid (RICE therapy - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Many conditions are misdiagnosed as recluse bites when their cause is something else like infection, bad reaction to medication, diabetic ulcers, Lyme disease, or other underlying medical conditions.

What does a brown recluse look like?

A brown recluse has a dark brown violin shape on the cephalothorax (the portion of the body to which the legs attach). The neck of the violin points backward toward the abdomen. However, what you should look at instead is the eye pattern of 6 eyes in pairs with a space separating the pairs. Most spiders have 8 eyes in two rows of four.

Here are the things that describe a brown recluse spider (but some other spiders have a few of these characters too). There are pictures below to illustrate what is NOT a recluse.

  • Six eyes arranged in pairs, with one pair in front and a pair on either side.
  • A dark violin shape on the cephalothorax.
  • Uniformly light-colored legs - no stripes, no bands
  • Uniformly colored abdomen which can vary from cream to dark brown depending on what it has eaten, however, it will never have two colors of pigment at the same time. (The little discoloration on the spider above left is the heart which can be seen through the thin skin.)
  • No spines on the legs, only fine hairs
  • Recluses make small retreat webs behind objects, never out in the open.
  • It is about 3/8 of an inch in body length.

All of the specimens shown below have been submitted to me as brown recluses. None of the spiders below should be considered dangerous.

Six eyes, not eight

You may not always be able to count the eyes and some eye pairs are so close together that you might not be able to see both of them, however, the 6 eye pattern of the brown recluse is easy to see with minor magnification. Most spiders can be eliminated as NOT brown recluses simply from this aspect. Be aware that there are spitting spiders (genus Scytodes) (below) which have a similar eye pattern but they do NOT have a violin (plus it has more than one color on its legs and abdomen).

Dark violin pattern

People have submitted the following spiders because they thought that they saw violins on their bodies. People also claim to see the violins on the top and bottom of the abdomen, and the underside of the cephalothorax. In the left photo, the two light spiders look like they have violins but they also have 8 eyes (although you need a microscope to see all 8 of them) and more than one pigment on the abdomen so they are not recluses (they are cellar spiders, genus Psilochorus and/or Physocyclus). The other spider in the left picture has a very faint dark line pattern which people assume is a violin. It also has 8 eyes and massive spines on its legs, so it is not a recluse. In the right photo, this spider has a slight darkening near its eyes so people mistake this for a recluse violin. This spider has 8 eyes clumped together and black spines on its legs although you may not be able to see the spines in this image (genus Kukulcania).

Uniformly colored legs and uniformly colored abdomen

If there is more than one color on the legs, or if the legs are brown or darker, it is NOT a recluse. If the spider has more than one pigment on the abdomen, it is NOT a recluse. The top two spiders are funnel weavers (family Agelenidae), the bottom left is an orbweaver (family Araneidae), and the bottom right spider is a male huntsman spider (Heteropoda venatoria) found most often in Florida but occasionally in other gulf coast states. They are can be determined to be NOT recluses by more than one color on their legs or abdomens.

Fine hairs only, no spines

If the spider has conspicuous thick spines on the legs, it is NOT a recluse. This orb weaver below has many spines sticking out perpendicularly from the legs.

Web made out of sight

If the spider has a conspicuous web out where you can see it, or between two trees or in rose bushes, it is NOT a recluse. The "classic" spider webs like that of Charlotte's Web are made by orb weavers.

Not larger than 1/2 inch in body length

If the spider has a body length of greater than half an inch, it is NOT a recluse.

These 10 fascinating facts about black widow spiders will teach you how to identify them, how they behave, and how to minimize your risk of being bitten.

Widow spiders aren't always black

When most people talk about the black widow spider, they likely think they're referring to a particular spider species. But in the U.S. alone, there are three different kinds of black widows (northern, southern, and western).

And although we tend to refer to all members of the genus Lactrodectus as black widows, widow spiders aren't always black. There are 31 species of Lactrodectus spiders worldwide. In the U.S., these include a brown widow and a red widow.

Only adult female black widows inflict dangerous bites

Female widow spiders are larger than males. It is believed, therefore, that female black widows can penetrate vertebrate skin more effectively than males and inject more venom when they bite.

Nearly all medically significant black widow bites are inflicted by female spiders. Male widow spiders and spiderlings are rarely a cause for concern, and some experts even say they don't bite.

Black widow females rarely eat their mates

Lactrodectus spiders are widely thought to practice sexual cannibalism, where the smaller male is sacrificed after mating. In fact, this belief is so widespread the term "black widow" has become synonymous for femme fatale, a kind of seductress who lures men with the intention of bringing harm to them.

But studies show that such behavior is actually quite rare in widow spiders in the wild, and even uncommon among captive spiders. Sexual cannibalism is actually practiced by quite a few insects and spiders and is not unique to the often maligned black widow.

Most (but not all) widow spiders can be identified by a red hourglass marking

Nearly all black widow females bear a distinct hourglass-shaped marking on the underside of the abdomen. In most species, the hourglass is bright red or orange, in sharp contrast to its shiny black abdomen.

The hourglass may be incomplete, with a break in the middle, in certain species like the northern black widow (Lactrodectus variolus). However, the red widow, Lactrodectus bishopi, does not have an hourglass marking, so be mindful that not all widow spiders are identified by this feature.

Black widow spiderlings look nothing like the black and red spiders we recognize as black widows

Widow spider nymphs are mostly white when they hatch from the egg sac. As they undergo successive molts, the spiderlings gradually darken in color, from tan to gray, usually with white or beige markings.

Female spiderlings take longer to reach maturity than their brothers but eventually turn dark black and red. So that drab, pale little spider you found just might be a widow spider, albeit an immature one.

Black widows make cobwebs

Black widow spiders belong to the spider family Theridiidae, commonly called the cobweb spiders. These spiders, black widows included, construct sticky, irregular silk webs to ensnare their prey.

Members of this spider family are also referred to as comb-foot spiders because they have a row of bristles on their back legs to help them wrap silk around their prey. But no need to worry. Although they are closely related to the house spiders building cobwebs in the corners of your home, black widows rarely come indoors.

Female black widows have poor eyesight

Black widows rely on their silk webs to "see" what's going on around them because they can't see very well. The black widow female usually hides in a hole or crevice and builds her web as an extension of her hiding spot. From the safety of her retreat, she can feel the vibrations of her web when either prey or predator comes in contact with the silk threads.

Male widow spiders looking for mates use this to their advantage. The male black widow will cut and rearrange the female's web, making it difficult for her to sense what's happening, before carefully approaching her to mate.

Black widow venom is 15 times as toxic as that of the prairie rattlesnake

Widow spiders do pack a powerful punch of neurotoxins in their venom. By volume, Lactrodectus venom is an extremely toxic mix of poisons capable of causing muscle cramps, severe pain, hypertension, weakness and sweating in bite victims.

But black widow spiders are significantly smaller than rattlesnakes, and they're built for subduing other small invertebrates, not large mammals like people. When a black widow spider bites a person, the volume of neurotoxins injected in the victim is small.

Black widow spider bites are rarely fatal

Although black widow bites can be painful and require medical treatment, they are very rarely fatal. In fact, the majority of black widow bites cause only mild symptoms, and many bite victims don't even realize they were bitten.

In a review of over 23,000 documented Lactrodectus envenomation cases that occurred in the U.S. from 2000 to 2008, the study authors noted that not a single death occurred as a result of a black widow bite. Only 1.4% of bite victims suffered "major effects" of black widow venom.

Before the invention of indoor plumbing, most black widow bites occurred in outhouses

Black widows don't often invade homes, but they do like to inhabit human-built structures like sheds, barns, and outhouses. And unfortunately for those who lived before the water closet was commonplace, black widows like to retreat under the seats of outdoor privies, perhaps because the smell attracts so many delicious flies for them to catch.

Men who use pit toilets should be aware of this disturbing little factoid – most black widow bites are inflicted on penises, thanks to their tendency to dangle threateningly into the black widow's territory beneath the seat. A 1944 case study published in the Annals of Surgery noted that, of 24 black widow bite cases reviewed, eleven bites were on the penis, one was on the scrotum, and four were on the buttocks. A full 16 of the 24 victims were bitten while sitting on the toilet.

How to Identify Spider Egg Sacs

This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.

There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 19 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 666,162 times.

Many spiders lay their eggs inside a silk egg sac, which is usually hidden in a web, affixed to a surface, or carried by the female. Spiders may produce multiple egg sacs, each containing up to several hundred eggs. The egg sac is made from woven silk and is often roughly the same size as the spider.

Common Home and Garden Spiders

Many of the common names for spiders suggest they are common house spiders. Think of cellar spiders as the prime example.

In terms of species numbers, Jumping spiders rank number one. There’s always going to be a jumping spider or two that wander from the outdoor shrubs to the indoor walls.

The pictures show a Bold Jumping spider and a Golden Jumping spider. Both species are common Virginia spiders that show up in homes and yards. The distinct marking on the back of the body are good identification clues.

Cobweb spiders bring an interesting contrast to the discussion. Most cobweb spider species live outdoors and never see the inside of a house. However, there are a handful of species in the family that are definitely house spiders. They include the Triangulate House Spider and the Common House spider. A couple of additional Stedota species go by the name False Widow spiders and they often wander indoors.

Widow spiders also belong to the cobweb spider family and the primary concern for poisonous spiders in Virginia are the Northern and Southern Black Widow.

Identification of widow spider species depends on a couple of physical characteristics. However, in terms of safety, it’s important to point out that only the females are classified as harmful, and both female widow spiders in Virginia share the characteristics of having black bodies with a red hourglass marking under the abdomen.

While they normally build nests low to the ground in brush and woodpiles, occasionally one can be found in an indoor shed or garage.

Virginia also has a very small population of Brown Recluse spiders in the Southwest.

The picture shows a Yellow Sac Spider. Sometimes they get the reputation of being a spider of medical concern like the Widow Spiders and Brown Recluse. They are certainly nuisance spiders in the house when they bite. However, there is no evidence their bite causes severe medical complications.

Virginia also shares common orb weaver spiders. Three types of orb weavers can be found in most residential areas. The so-called garden spiders (Argiopes), Spotted Orbweavers (Neoscona) and Araneus species.

The picture at the top of the page shows an Arrowhead Orbweaver. They are small spiders that build web in residential areas and parks.

All of the mos common home and garden spiders bite. However, with the exception of the above mentioned species, none of them show aggressive tendencies and none of them are a cause for medical concern.

All things being equal, having a yard or garden with spiders is a sign of a healthy yard or garden. Generally speaking, spiders are beneficial creatures because they prey on the insect pests that bother the homeowner most.

Spiders Weave Better on LSD-25

In 1948 a German zoologist H.M. Peters was studying spiders and faced a problem. The Spiders weaved their nests between 2AM and 5AM in the morning. He questioned a friend Dr. Peter Witt, a German born Swiss pharmacologist, what they could do to get the spiders to weave webs during feasible day times.

According to Rainer Foelix, in his book “Biology of Spiders”, Dr. Witt prescribed amphetamine. Unfortunately or fortunately that didn’t work. The spiders continued to build in those early morning hours although, the drugged spider’s webs were amazingly different as compared to the sober spiders.

Finding the outcome of the experiment very interesting, Dr. Witt performed more experiments on the spiders with other drugs like LSD, mescaline, and caffeine. The forms of webs depended on which substance they were given.

“Then Witt tried mescaline, strychnine, caffeine, and others. Low-dosed caffeinated spiders produced a smaller but wider web with a normal spiral but radii at over sized angles. At higher doses, like with the other drugs, web regularity got distorted. Only with low doses of the hallucinogen LSD-25 did the spiders spin webs of greater regularity,” R. Foelix, Biology of Spiders.

They also tended to look much the same for each specific drug they were given. Because of these findings. Dr. Witt proposed that law enforcement could identify confiscated drugs in a cheaper manner than traditional chemical analysis.

Another interesting take on the web change is the increase of the spiders body weight after consuming one hundred and fifty mg/kg of psilocybin per os, 1 g/kg of mescaline per os, or a 30% increase in body weight made spiders build webs the following day with a shorter thread.

The weight increase also caused a thicker thread measured as higher nitrogen content per meter thread. This can be explained by assuming that the heavier spider has to build a thicker thread to hold its own weight while it has not enough material to build it of equal length.

Removal of weight led only after 3 and more days to a return to thread thickness and length of control webs. However, these heavier spiders repeated their web-building at a normal frequency. You can read more of the drugged spiders weight and webs.

The strange part is LSD-25 has been claimed to be a wonder drug by people, as it helped them professionally as well as spiritually to boost mind expansion.

Poisonous Spiders in South Carolina

Two black widow spiders live in South Carolina. Only the bites of females is considered dangerous.

Black widow spider identification normally begins with the red hour glass marking on the ventral side of the abdomen. Sometimes the top of the abdomen for the female Northern black widow has a red mark or pattern.

Keeping an eye out for the spiders around the yard is a matter of looking for messy cobwebs near stationary objects such as wood piles, the corner of sheds,

When it comes to the Brown Recluse spider, a dog analogy might be appropriate. Talk of Brown Recluse spiders in South Carolina is more bark than bite. The Journal of the Medical Board of Family Medicine published an article in 2007 that compared the number of reported Brown Recluse spider bites with the number of documented Brown Recluse sightings.

They noted that the Brown Recluse range is limited to the western edges of the state.

Results: South Carolina physicians diagnosed 478 brown recluse spider bites in 1990 and 738 in 2004. Dating to 1953, 44 brown recluse spider specimens have been verified from 6 locations in South Carolina.

Discussion: The number of brown recluse bites reportedly diagnosed in South Carolina greatly outnumbers the verified brown recluse specimens that have been collected in the state. The pattern of bite diagnoses outnumbering verified brown recluse specimens has been reported in other areas outside of this spider’s known endemic range.

Spider Crickets Are Real, And Here’s Why You Don’t Want Them In Your Home

Just when you thought there wasn’t anything left to give you the heebie-jeebies, along comes the spider cricket. While they’re not exactly hybrid of spiders and crickets, they’re similar enough to put your arachnophobia on high alert.

What Are Spider Crickets?

These critters go by lots of names, but “spider cricket” is one of the most common because they resemble spiders. Their officical name is Rhaphidophoridae. They’re also known as “criders,” “sprikets,” “cave weta,” “cave crickets,” “camelback crickets,” or “camel crickets.” And because they look so much like spiders, they’re definitely scary to anyone who’s not a fan.

Worse, they often congregate in large groups, which can make for a terrifying sight if you happen to enter a place where a few are roaming around. But these bugs, even if they are creepy and crawly, are for the most part harmless. However, you don’t want them in your home because of the damage they can do.

What Do Spider Crickets Look Like?

Spider crickets are most commonly mistaken for wolf spiders because they are similar in size and coloration. But when you get a closer look at one, you’ll see long antennae, and you’ll notice that they’ve only got six legs, with the two hind legs much longer than the other four—just like any cricket.

Adults are wingless, and their bodies have almost a humpbacked shape. Many say they even resemble shrimp. And they can get pretty big, too—up to two inches in length!

Don’t look too closely, though! Spider crickets have a habit of jumping directly at things that startle them, which means one might leap at you if you scare it. This is a defense mechanism for the spider cricket. It’s not that they’re attacking so much as attempting to frighten potential predators.

Do Spider Crickets Bite?

There are conflicting reports on this. Most bug experts say “no” because spider crickets don’t have fangs or the ability (or desire) to bite humans. They use their mouthparts called mandibles to “gnaw” on their food. But they can gnaw on you if one happens to land on you.

No Chirp, Just Pop

Interestingly, unlike other types of crickets, spider crickets don’t make the characteristic chirping sound and don’t use sound to attract a mate (they do that by emitting a smell if you were wondering). They don’t have the sound-producing organs that other crickets have—though some sources say that when there are a lot of them hopping around in a basement or outbuilding, it can sound a little like popping popcorn (our apologies to popcorn fans!).

Where Do Spider Crickets Live?

These bugs can be found all over the United States. In the wild, they’re typically found in caves and forested areas where there are plenty of places to hide beneath leaves, rocks, and rotten logs in the summer and fall. Like stinkbugs, spider crickets are “accidental invaders” into our houses, loving dark and damp places like basements, crawlspaces, garages, and sheds. They’re known to gather in large numbers, too, so if you see one, there are probably more.

Houses are their favorite habitat because they feed on lots of things found around most homes. Fungus and plant matter makes up a large portion of their diet, but they’ll chew fabric, rugs and carpet, wood, cardboard, and sometimes even fellow spider crickets.

How to Keep Spider Crickets Out of Your Home

In severe cases, an exterminator might be your best option to get rid of spider crickets. But for the most part, these simple steps will keep spider crickets, and other dark, damp-loving pests away.

  • Caulk. Make sure your home’s foundation is properly sealed and caulked to minimize points of entry.
  • Minimize clutter. In those dark and damp areas, you’ll want to minimize any clutter that they use for cover and consider keeping those areas well-lit to keep them away.
  • Dehumidifying is one of the most important things you can do. It might take time, but eliminating the moisture they love should cause them to go elsewhere.
  • Get rid of hiding places. You can reduce populations by getting rid of places for them to hide. Woodpiles, mulch, stones, tall grass—all of these spots offer them shelter, so minimizing such things will help keep them away.

If you happen to see a spider cricket, don’t freak out! Even if they are creepy looking, they’re harmless—and a vital part of the ecosystem, too. If they’re in your home, dry up moisture, and they should go back outside where they belong.