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Re: Digest Number 1709 spider

At one time I was terribly phobic regarding spiders.  While living in Germany the "Tegeneria agrestis" or "Tegeneria gigantea" with regularity managed to get into our home (rural southern Germany).  My poor husband regularly had to deal with them as I could literally not get near enough to use the fly swatter (toooooo close for me).  It's a LARGE spider, substantial body and way too many very long legs.  When one of the things bit our infant daughter on her scalp (5a.m. on Easter Sunday)  and put her in the hospital I overcame my phobia and became a hunter of the creature.   We found the spider in her room and captured it.  The emergency pediatrician had not believed me when I described the size of the spider so I was pleased to watch him blanch when he saw our captive.  The fangs left marks indicating a spacing of a little less than 1/8th of an inch.  Like I said it's a big darn spider.  When I worked in our yard and ran across an adult I left it alone, however if it were within 5 feet of the foundation it got a flying lesson!  I suppose I should be thankful since the spider actually forced me to stomp on fear and cope with my over-reaction.  
I usually found them living in brushy growth, the raspberry vines, the mums, etc.  I rarely found one in the iris bed, and then it was clear to me that the spider was simply "passing through" on its way elsewhere.  They are not shy, unlike the orb weaver, or for that matter the little jumping spiders who would rather not be noticed by us!  I appreciate what spiders do for us in the yard....I would prefer that they stay there!  
Gloves in the yard are a very good idea.  Keeping your gloves stored where critters cannot get inside them is also a good idea.  I use to simply tuck my gloves into my garden tool caddy...until the day I started to pull the right glove onto my hand and felt SOMETHING dancing at the tip of my ring finger!!!  It was just a lost beetle, but it was an unpleasant experience and I admit that the glove received a flying lesson that day.  Sigh.  Nuff said. 
Joanna Varner
Round Rock TX (Zone 8/9)
Message: 6
   Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 11:53:47 -0400
   From: Bill Shear <wshear@hsc.edu>
Subject: :Spiders 
Mel--the "hobo spider" is scientifically Tegeneria agrestis, a European
import to the Pacific NW.  It has now become relatively common from northern California to Washington, and west to Montanta and Idaho.  There may also be colonies in Colorado.  Unfortunately, an ignorant entomologist who was in the business of coining common names dubbed this the "Aggressive House Spider".  This was based on a mistaken translation, because 'agrestis' does not mean "aggressive", but is Latin for "rustic, boorish, wild, savage." One of Plautus' comedies has a rube character named Agrestis.  In Europe the spider originally was found in rural areas, but has become adapted (like other Tegenaria species) to life in houses.  Tegenarias are the alarming spiders that often get trapped in sinks or bathtubs and precipitate panics about "spiders coming up out of the drains."  Actually, they fall in accidentally and can't climb the smooth walls of the sinks.
That said, the hobo bites are much over-rated.  The spiders are extremely
reluctant to bite--they're not at all "aggressive."  Spiders chasing cats
and dogs is a new one on me!  With my cat, it's the other way around.  Most people have no reaction or only  a mild one, but in a very few, a deep,  slow-healing ulcer develops.  This may be in large part an allergic or
hypersensitive reaction.  But because the spider lives in our houses, it is frequently encountered and the chances of a bite are greater.
Some authorities say that spider bites are as much as 90% over-reported;
any bite, sting or unresolved dermatitis being called a "spider bite."  Fear
of spiders is widespread.  I regret newspaper articles like the one you cite
because a chance for meaningful education has been missed in the interests of sensationalism.
Bill S.


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