Tuesday, October 11, 2005


My Arachnid Neighbor

For the past week, a big, scary, beautiful spider has been building its web in the second-story breezeway in my apartment building. It's brown, with wide white bands on its legs. Its body is about an inch long, and legtip to legtip it is about two inches long. I've looked at several hundred spider pictures on the Internet, but haven't been able to identify it.

It's nocturnal, spending its days curled up in a corner, and then starting to build its circular two-foot-wide web an hour or so before sunset. It sits motionless in the center of its web all night. I've never seen it move at night, but I do see insects wrapped up in the web, so it must be doing its thing once in a while.

This evening, however, it is still curled up in its corner. I suspect it has passed away, because I don't think spiders ever sleep in or take a day off. That's too bad—it really was beautiful.

If it stays motionless for a couple more days, I may take it down to get a good look at it and try to identify it. The web sites that help identify spiders note the arrangement of eyes, shape of copulation organs, and other things that I can't see from a few feet away.

I haven't been able to get a good picture, because my camera won't focus on it at night, and its daytime curled-up posture isn't very interesting.

[UPDATE: As of 1:30 AM, the spider was alive and well in its web, in the process of wrapping up a juicy morsel. I guess spiders sometimes do sleep in.]

It sounds as if you're describing a barn spider (like Charlotte in Charlotte's Web).
It would be brown and have banded legs.
When on its web does its head point down? The best identifying feature are two white spots on the underside of its abdomen.
Look for orb weavers or search on barn spider at: http://bugguide.net/
Thanks. My spider isn't as furry as the pictures of barn spiders I see on the Internet, but the description of its behavior seems like a perfect match.

It does hang out on the web with its head down. I can't see its underside today (it seems to switch sides of the web every day), but I'll get a look when I can.
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