Spiders

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American House Spider

American House Spider, Vancouver Island, BCThe American House Spider is a fairly common arachnid, that is likely to escape notice, as it tends to build its web in out-of-the-way places. Although they are called a house spider, most of the ones I’ve seen are outside, in our sheds or in the greenhouse. Read More….

 

 

Black Widow Spider

Black Widow Spider, Vancouver Island, BCThe western Black Widow Spider inhabits areas of the US, parts of Mexico, and Canada, including Vancouver Island. They typically prey on a variety of insects, but occasionally feeds on other arachnids, as well. It waits until prey has been trapped in its web, before darting out of its den to bite & inject it with venom, and then wrap it up in silk. Read More….

 

 

Callobius Spider

Callobius Spider, Vancouver Island, BCHackle mesh weavers (callobius spider) are known to build irregular looking webs, in bark and wood debris. They can be found all over Vancouver Island. I hardly ever see them around our home, but often run into them, while out in our Island forests. Read More….

 

 

Cellar Spider

Cellar Spider, Vancouver Island, BCThese spiders have very long legs. They are members of the Pholcidae family and can be found throughout the Island, living in our houses and buildings. They make their messy webs in the corners of walls or ceilings. They are often found in basements or cellars, hence their common name – cellar spiders. Read More….

 

 

Common House Spider

Common House Spider, Vancouver Island, BCThe common house spider is found in houses across Canada and throughout the world, most often making its home in humid basements & crawlspaces. They are very common on the BC coast. These spiders can grow to be up to 3 cm long. They have brown & black bodies and light brown legs with grey or brown markings. Read More….

 

 

Cross Spider

Cross Spider, Vancouver Island, BCThe cross spider is common to a wide range of habitats, including gardens, meadows, woodland clearings, and forest settings. It is frequently encountered next to buildings with exterior lighting and can be found in lighted stairwells of structures in rural areas. Read More….

 

 

Cupboard Spider

Cupboard Spider, Vancouver Island, BCMale steatoda grossa spider, commonly called the Cupboard Spider, is also known as the comb-footed spider, and false widow spider. They are found along the Pacific coast of North America, in the southern States, and all along the Atlantic coast. Read More….

 

 

Deer Tick

Deer Tick, Vancouver Island, BCAdult deer ticks are quite small. Males are black, and females have a dull red abdomen, & a black shield near the head. Females swell to 1/4 cm when fully engorged after feeding, then change color to grayish green. Adults are found primarily from September through November, and again in March and April.  Read More….

 

 

Flat Bellied Ground Spider

Goldenrod Crab Spider, Vancouver Island, BCFlat-bellied ground spiders are part of the 7th largest spider family in the world, comprising over 2,000 species in 8 subfamilies. and 114 genera. They range in size from 2 to 20 mm. They are a wandering spider, found at ground level in open habitats. Some species are house spiders, but most prefer to live outdoors. Read More….

 

 

Giant House Spider

Goldenrod Crab Spider, Vancouver Island, BCThe giant house spider is a close relative of both the hobo spider and the common house spider. The bite of this spider species, however, does not pose a threat to humans or animals. Like most spiders, though, they possess quite a potent venom to subdue their prey with, which can frequently result in an infection. Read More….

 

 

Golden Rod Crab Spider

Goldenrod Crab Spider, Vancouver Island, BCCrab spiders come in many different colors. They can sit on a flower and be almost invisible!  Sometimes the very insects they plan to eat, will walk right up to them. Some crab spiders can change colors to blend into their surroundings, making them one of the best camouflage experts around. Read More….

 

 

Ground Wolf Spider

Ground Wolf Spider, Vancouver Island, BCGround wolf spiders can excavate burrows in the soil to a depth of a 30 cm or more. The entrance may be left open to the sky, & merely lined with a few silken strands. A few species construct true trap doors with disc-like lids, that are loose & unhinged, and can be opened & closed at will. Read More….

 

 

Hobo Spider

Hobo Spider, Vancouver Island, BCHobo spiders are native to the Pacific Northwest and can be found in Oregon, Washington, northern California, and in southern British Columbia, including (some say) Vancouver Island. I am not sure about the Island but have added the hobo to my site so others will know a bit more about them. Read More….

 

 

Huntsman Spider

Huntsman Spider, Vancouver Island, BCThe Huntsman Spider is grey to light brown in color, with a rectangular, elongated abdomen, and 4 pairs of long legs. This spider’s body is approximately 1 cm in length, and with legs extended – up to 5 cm long. Adults tend to hide during the day, and become active at night when they search for food, such as plant juices and dead or sometimes live insects. Read More….

 

 

Long Jawed Orb Weaver Spider

Long Jawed Orb Weaver, Vancouver Island, BCThe long-jawed orb weaver has translucent areas on its legs, allowing the color of the background area to show through, providing it with some camouflage. Members of this genus have very long chelicerae, and in some species, they are so big, that they’re reminiscent of a praying mantis’ over-sized forelegs. Read More….

 

 

Phidippus Borealis Spider

Phiddus Borealis, Vancouver Island, BCAlthough these spiders are quite small, they are beautiful to see, and their variety is amazing. They are easily distinguished from other spiders, by their unique eye arrangement, and general behavior. For instance, they don’t just walk, but rather, dart about so quickly from one spot to the next, that it’s hard to see them move! Read More….

 

 

Philodromus Dispar Spider

Philodromus Dispar Spider, Vancouver Island, BCPhilodromus dispar spiders are widespread throughout the coastal region and most of the Pacific Northwest. This species is found in a variety of forested habitats, including broad-leaved & coniferous forests, thickets, scrub brush, home gardens, and our houses. They can be seen on woodland plants and the lower branches of trees and bushes. Read More….

 

 

Red Orb Weaver Spider

Red Orb Weaver Spider, Vancouver Island, BCRed orb weaver spiders belong to the family Araneidae. They can be distinguished from other web-weaving spiders by their highly organized webs. They weave their silk into circular grids, while other spiders, particularly cobweb spiders, weave much less organized webs. Read More….

 

 

Thin Legged Wolf Spider

Thin Legged Wolf Spider, Vancouver Island, BCThin-legged wolf spiders are the nomadic hunters within Vancouver Island’s spider populations. You won’t see them spinning a web, because they spend most of their time wandering about the forests of Vancouver Island, hunting prey. Read More….

 

 

 

Tibellus Oblongus Spider

Tibellus Oblongus Spider, Vancouver Island, BCTibellus Oblongus is also known as the running crab spider and is one of 2 spider families using the crab spider name. They can be found in the Pacific Northwest and California, including all west coast areas, except for Oregon. They can be observed throughout Vancouver Island. Read More….

 

 

Trap Door Spider

Trap Door Spider, Vancouver Island, BCThe trapdoor spider does not have a web-like most other spider species. It has a trap door with a burrow underneath it. This lair can be about 30 cm deep and 5cm wide. Its door, camouflaged with soil, opens & closes with silk acting as the hinge. The spider is nocturnal, meaning, it hunts at night. The trapdoor spider waits for a creature to walk close by the door and set off its trip strands of silk. Read More….

 

 

Wolf Spider

Wolf Spider, Vancouver Island, BCThe wolf spider is known to be rather aggressive, but its bite is not usually dangerous to humans. This is a good thing since they are one of the most common spiders found throughout North America! Although they are typically observed on the western side of the continent, they have been spotted as far east as Nova Scotia, and as far south as Florida. Read More….

 

 

Woodlouse Hunter Spider

Woodlouse Hunter Spider, Vancouver Island, BCThe woodlouse hunter is another spider that hunts its prey. It is found in the US, from New England to Georgia, and westerly, in California. They also inhabit areas of the Pacific Northwest, including all of Vancouver Island. Read More….

 

 

 

Yellow Sac Spider

Yellow Sac Spider, Vancouver Island, BCYellow sac spiders are found inside their flattened, silk tubes. In warm seasons, these spiders tend to reside in gardens, leaf piles, woodpiles, and timber. In fall, they migrate indoors and can be seen crawling up & down walls, as well as across ceilings, and vertical surfaces. Yellow sac spider populations increase significantly in the fall, leading to indoor infestations. Read More….

 

 

 

Giant House Spider, Vancouver Island, BC
Giant House Spider, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

Nearly half the total number of spider species known to Canada are found in, and quite often, only, in BC. Given their importance to all ecosystems in which they live, one must wonder why these beautiful creatures have received so little attention in the province, and on Vancouver Island.

Spiders are ferocious creatures living in the world of arthropods. Theirs is a matriarchal society ruled by females, where males can sometimes be little more than just a meal. The study of these fascinating animals on Vancouver Island, has, for the most part, been conducted by a few amateur, but dedicated collectors.

Trap Door Spider, Vancouver Island, BC
Trap Door Spider, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

Walk anywhere in British Columbia, and you’ll be less than a metre away from a spider. With more than 700 known species in the province, arachnids are everywhere, from mountaintops to inter tidal zones. These creatures are always exciting to watch – from jumping spiders that dance to impress potential mates, to yellow crab spiders that disguise themselves as flowers.

Spiders have an ominous, but often undeserved reputation. Though most spiders are venomous and considered predators, of the thousands of species found in Canada, few are actually considered a health threat. In fact, spiders are actually helpful in controlling other pests in the home or garden, since they feed on other harmful insects.

Spiders rarely bite humans. Although they’re often unpopular, the venom of most species is not very toxic to humans, usually resulting in no more than a slight swelling, inflammation, or itching sensation. Most spiders’ fangs are too small or weak to puncture human skin. Spiders will not usually attempt to bite, unless accidentally trapped against the skin or grasped, or are actively guarding their egg sacs or young.

Callobius Severus Spider, Vancouver Island, BC
Callobius Severus Spider, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

One of the most common misconceptions about spiders is that they are insects. Spiders are arachnids, and are actually more closely related to mites, ticks and scorpions. Spiders have 2 body parts, 8 legs, and usually 6 – 8 eyes, while insects are classified as having 3 body parts, 6 legs, and generally 2 compound eyes or up to 3 single eyes.

The average life span of a spider is usually 1 – 2 years, but some can live up to 20 years. Spiders lay eggs within a silken egg sac that is often ball-shaped, and either hidden in a web, affixed to a surface, or carried by the female. Spiders may produce several egg sacs, each containing up to several hundred eggs. A spider grows by shedding its skin about 4 – 12 times before maturity. In many species, the mature male often wanders about in search of a mate, while the female has a territory.

All spiders produce silk, which is secreted as a liquid through spinnerets, and hardens on contact with air. Spiders use silk for a variety of purposes, such as: making egg sacs, capturing prey, holding prey, making shelters or retreats, and transferring sperm during mating. Also, spiderlings extrude silk threads, that enable them to be transported by the wind, a process called ballooning.

Spiders are predators that typically feed on living victims. They produce venom that is poisonous to their normal prey of insects, mites, and other small arthropods. Venom is injected through the hollow fangs to immobilize the prey, and begin the digestion process. Spiders can only ingest liquids, so they either inject or regurgitate digestive fluids into the prey. They then suck in the digested liquid food.

Spiders use a variety of tactics to capture prey. Some species are web builders that use webbing to ensnare their victims. Others are hunters that actively search out their prey. Passive hunters, on the other hand, lay in wait for their victims, rather than searching. All are incredible to watch!

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