Whilst posting on Cross or Garden (or Diadem for that matter) Spiders in the last post, I thought about writing a few words on House Spiders, because its EXACTLY this time of year that you can expect to come across a few, racing across the sitting room floor, or trapped in the bath.
No need to predict them though - this fat boy turned up on our kitchen wall tonight!
I apologise for the poor quality of photos - the camera phone doesn't like white walls and close up of dark objects on them at night. I do hope you can see the spider's two main eyes caught in the flash in the third photo!
This, as is usually the case, is the MALE House Spider. One can tell by looking at his larger palps than the female. The palps are the 'boxing gloves' at the front of the spider - look at the second photo again.
Male spiders wave their larger palps (boxing gloves) at the larger (body size) female in a bid to woo her. If he didn't arse about, waving these palps, she'd probably mistake him for prey, and eat him before he got a chance to mate. Not good eh? She WILL eat him anyway, after he has done the job, and died naturally.
There are some spiders species as I'm sure you know, in which the female eats the male alive, immediately proceeding sex. At least the males die happy though!
When wooed, the male passes (pulls really, using silk strands) sperm into the bulb of his palps which is then, ahem, presented to the female.
How's that for kinky copulation?!
Around this time of year, male Tegenaria individuals are on the hunt for a mate, be they domestica or duellica species. Contrary to popular? myths, they do NOT climb up into the bath from the plug-hole, but invariably crawl into the house via an open window (look at your exterior walls on a late summer evening - they'll be there waiting for you to open a window!!!) and fall into the tub.
I'm not keen on overly large House Spiders. But I do find them fascinating. They are so bloody alien!
---They have eight eyes. (or most do anyway).
---They have eight HYRAULICALLY POWERED legs.
Anything more "tv sci-fi" alien than that?!
---The hydraulic fluid which powers their legs is blood, but not any old blood....
BLUE / GREEN BLOOD! (cyanoglobin not haemoglobin).
---Not to mention their strange mating procedures!
A bit of trivia for you regarding the Giant House Spider.
Tegenaria duellica (formerly T.gigantea), the Giant House Spider (a very close relation - I thought ours was one until today, 9/9/07) is nearly confined to extreme NW Europe - pretty well France and the UK really, although someone went and introduced it to Vancouver and parts of N.America also - where it does seem to be doing ok.
It did hold the record for being the FASTEST SPIDER IN THE WORLD (1.17mph!) until 1987. (It actually featured in the Guinness Book of Records). Since then, that title has been given to some "African Sun Spiders" (bleeding Johnny Foreigners etc... etc...), but as, strictly speaking these spiders aren't actually spiders at all, (like scorpions they are a different type of arachnids), you can STILL, quite correctly, call this spider (look at it closely though - or you may mistake it like me) racing along your skirting board right now, the fastest in the world.
You can run, but you can't hide....
This spider doesn't seem to be in a hurry to leave. So I took some MORE photos of him! Apologies for the slightly blurred photographs again. The REALLY close up photograph of our spider's face was taken with the camera phone literally 1" away from the little bugger. You can make out a good few of its eight eyes in that shot...
Sleep well. Mwah ah ah ah aaaaah....!