IMPORTANT NOTICE: NEW SITE!
I have a real website now rather than a blog. Though I will keep this one open for a while, I will no longer keep this one up. My new site, "USA Spiders" is not fully completed but getting close. I made sure to get the Michigan page finished first. :o) Please use
USA Spiders in the future and if you find any problems with the site, please let me know so I can fix them.




Spiders verified to be here in Michigan are listed on the left sidebar. On the right sidebar, are the spiders of which pictures have been sent in to me.

The BROWN RECLUSE SPIDER! - Rick Vetter, the worlds top expert on the Brown recluse has published a book on the infamous Brown recluse spider. Learn the truth behind the worlds most misunderstood spider. (BUY IT HERE!)

My Disclaimer
My Knowledge and Why I am Not an Expert

Spider Questions and IDENTIFICATION Requests
My EMAIL can be found in the above link. I am always happy to help identify a spider, but please do us both a favor and read this before emailing me. Thanks.

Describing your Spider ..... Photographing your Spider

Your Fear of Spiders
........... Spiders in your Home?


FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT.....

Beyond Spider Dome - Where two spiders enter and one comes out.

Spiders and Drugs - Documentary video about the effects different drugs have on spiders.

Play with a computerized spider
- (flash)

Spider Diagram. - Basic anatomy of a spider.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Photographing Your Spiders

In the warmer months, I receive several emails every day with pictures of spiders attached, asking me to identify the spiders. Not only do I NOT mind answering these emails, I am always glad for them as I am always looking for new pictures that are of good quality. Unfortunately the pictures of real quality are far and few between, so I thought I would write an article that may help people get better pictures.

Now believe me, I understand that not everyone has a good camera. If all you own is a phone with a low level camera, and you cant get a clear picture of the spider, that is fine. If you want a spider identified and cannot find it for yourself on Michigan Spiders, then any picture is more helpful than no picture. The very worst that will come from a bad quality picture is that I wont be able to give you a good identification and will only give you a guess.

#1) rule in sending me a picture of a spider - Please send it as an attachment in a JPEG or BMP format. If I can open the picture as an attachment, I have the opportunity of zooming in and seeing more detail that I cannot get when it is pasted in the body of the email. Plus, if it is a good clear picture and you paste it in the body, I may not be able to copy and save it with enough quality to use on my site or book.

#2) Lighting - No I am not going to get all techical on you here. I am no photographer myself. One thing I have learned is that there are different types of light. The very best for taking pictures is real daylight light. Pictures taken in real daylight will often come out clearer than any other lighting. The next best is florescent lighting and the worst seems to be from standard light bulbs. I have found that with florescent lighting, my pictures even with a cheep low quality camera will be much more clear and detailed than with standard bulbs. Standard lighting (known in the film industry as "yellow" light) gives a picture a very grainy quality.

#3) Be Calm - I know you may be scared of spiders and this will make you a little more shaky. It will tend to make you afraid to get too close. Keep in mind that most spiders do not jump and will not launch themselves at you or your camera. The Jumping spiders we have in Michigan are not dangerous. The only spider you need to genuinely fear in Michigan is the Black Widow. If it is not a Widow, you do not need to be afraid of it. If it is a Widow, it still wont jump at you, so just dont touch it. But if you can calm your fears long enough to get a closer picture without shaking the camera, you will get a much higher quality picture.

#4) If you are using a real camera and not a simple phone camera, there is a good chance you have the Macro option. It will have a symbol of a flower. A tulip I think? This function allows you to focus on an object that is much closer to the camera. I am talking even less than an inch away. It will limit your zooming function but still allow you a much closer up shot of a spider than you would get without it. This is awesome for helping you get a picture of a spider's eye pattern and that is awesome for helping me identify the spider.

#5) Use a Quarter - If you can get a picture of the spider on or next to a quarter, it helps others who see it have a good idea how big your spider is. You can use other items as well, like a ruler, a bottle cap and so on. As long as it is something that is always one size and people are familiar with it. That is why I like to use quarters if I think of it. Everyone is very familiar with the size of a quarter. This will not help me identify it much, but it will come in handy for the viewers if I should use your picture in my site or book.

As I mentioned. I am no professional photographer. There may be some tips others can give that I am not aware of. If you have anything to add that will be of help to others (especially the novice), please add to this in the comment section.


The Effects of Introducing Drugs to Spiders

This is a short documentary (1:51) about the scary effects the different drugs have when introduced to spiders.

However, I must make a couple points. They call the spider within this video a Wood Spider. It is in fact a simple Garden Orb Weaver.

The commentator unprofessionally uses a couple of medium level swear words. Please be advised if you are to let your children see this video.





Saturday, April 27, 2013

Beyond Spider Dome - Index


Even though I run Michigan Spiders, I am not some activist who believes you should never kill spiders. I see the outside of my home as their turf and will let them roam free so long as they stay outside. However, if a spider ventures into my territory (my home), they do so at the risk of death by cat, my wife and her vacuum, me with a shoe, or entering Spider Dome!

What is Spider Dome you ask? Why it's only the fiercest competition in the spider kingdom, that's all it is! Spider Dome is a clear plastic dome (well, it's more like a cylinder, really), where two spiders are entered to face each other in a fight to the death. The battles are fierce and merciless. The bloodshed is... well its non-existant really, as they do not bleed like people do. The champion will be kept as my personal pet at my work, and will be given feasts in the likes of small crickets until they are fat.

WARNING** -- If you are weak at heart and the sight of a spider dying causes your stomach to feel queezy to the point of losing yesterdays lunch, you might need to take a couple tough pills and call me in the morning. Oh, and you might not want to watch any videos in these articles.

Hahriette - The first Champion of "Beyond Spider Dome" 
An article introducing the world to Hahriette, the first champion of Spider Dome and to Spider Dome itself.

Beyond Spider Dome - Episode One
Hahriette is 2-0 (both victories against Steotodas) entering this match. For the first time, she faces real competition. A foe who is quick, aggressive and willing to fight back. Then be chased around the domee before finally attacking again. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Myth of the Brown Recluse - Part 2

I have had a long debate on whether the Brown Recluse is indigenous to Michigan or not. I would like to take this article to state all of the facts from both sides.

Reasons I say they are not here in Michigan

1) Entomologists have learned that the Brown Recluse cannot live in temperatures under 40 degrees. Since Michigan winters get so much colder than that for long periods, they could not possibly survive here in the outdoors.

2) I have only been able to uncover four confirmed sightings of the Brown Recluse in Michigan. By "Confirmed" I mean identified by someone who actually knows what they are talking about. The DNR mentions one sighting and articles from MSU Entomology department reveals three others. All but one have been traced to find the spider was brought to Michigan by someone who came back from a trip down south.

3) All of the entomologists I have spoken to, emailed with, or read articles by, have said the same thing. Michigan gets too cold for the Brown Recluse to survive. It is not indigenous to Michigan and doctors continue to frequently misdiagnose MRSA and other infections as Brown Recluse bites.

4) I have challenged my readers to show me some real evidence they live in Michigan. I have received links to the same articles I have mentioned. That is it. Many have stories of knowing someone who was bit by one, but cannot or will not supply me with a doctor's name and number, send me medical records or say who identified the spider. Most say they never saw the spider.

5) I have been sent hundreds of pictures from people asking me to help them identify the spider they saw. Not one has been the recluse.  I have received a few Black Widows, but not one Brown Recluse.

6) I can find many maps on-line showing the regions in the USA where the Brown Recluse lives. None of them come close to Michigan. They reach the bottom edge of Ohio at best. THere are many articles stating that the Recluse cannot live in colder weather. I cannot find even one article by a reputable source that says the Brown Recluse lives in Michigan. Not one!


Reasons to believe the Brown Recluse DOES live in Michigan.

1) There are a lot of stories about people who know people who were bitten by the Brown Recluse.

2) There are many people who say they have seen them. (Even though none of them have shown me one yet.)

3) Of the four confirmed sightings, there was still the one that they never proved was brought in from a trip down south.


The Truth
When you put all of the evidence that the Brown Recluse does NOT live in Michigan together, it is overwhelming. It is backed up by experts, and reputable sites. The evidence stating it does live in Michigan is underwhelming at best and for the most part, nothing more than a lot of second hand stories by people who do not know the Recluse from the Yellow Sac Spider, and Doctors misdiagnosing the bites.

The truth is, the only chance of a Brown Recluse being in Michigan, is if it is brought here from someone who comes back from down south. The only way it could possibly survive in Michigan is if it is blown from a truck from down south, and makes its way into a house or building that is always heated. Yet, even on this very rare occurrence, the facts show that the Brown Recluse would not be able to spread out and survive our Winters. It would only survive so long as it stays in the heated building.

With almost 10 million people in Michigan, and everyone knowing at least someone who was bit by a brown recluse, how is it nobody is able to show any real evidence? However reclusive the spider is, isnt the lack of proof very telling?

I know that many of you know someone who was diagnosed as being bitten. Please tell them to get a 2nd opinion, or tell the doc the Recluse is not indigenous to Michigan and to check it for MRSA and other infections.  If you have them around, send me a picture in the least. Send me a spider in a container (preferably dead). Please, send me evidence.

Experts say it is not living in Michigan. I say it is not living in Michigan. Science says it is not in Michigan. Who will you believe? The experts, or the stories by those who do not know a lot about spiders?

The Brown Recluse is the most misidentified spider because it is one of the most feared and there are several spiders that have some features that are similar. The most common ones to be mistaken for the Recluse is the Yellow Sac Spider, and a variety of the Fishing Spider. But truth be told, I have had people send many kinds of spider pics in, afraid they may be Recluse spiders. Believe me when I say, if they did live here, I would want to know so I could warn people and teach them how to deal with them. My site is about the truth and until people start showing me evidence they live here, I will be forced to continue to preach the truth as I see it, because the evidence is overwhelming that they do NOT live in Michigan.



Beyond Spider Dome - Episode One

Hahriette, the current reigning champion of Spiderdome faced her greatest competition yet. Another Daring Jumping Spider. Clarise the Killer was a little smaller than Hahriette, but from the white spots on her back, she was older and more experienced.

It was a match to remember as the two hunters of the spider world faced off with quick attacks and fast retreats. Watch the video and see for yourself, but be warned. It is a grueling finish. Did we get a new champion? Does Hahriette continue her reign of power?

Okay, I will spoil this one for you. I am proud to say, Hahriette has shown, once again, she is the Queen of Spiderdome and still our beloved champion! Hahriette is now 3-0.




NOTE**

I do not look for spiders to face off in Spiderdome. I only take volunteers. If they enter my home, they volunteer. I believe my house is my territory and outside is theirs. Any spider that enters my domain faces the punishment of death. Whether it is by my wife with a shoe, one of two cats, or being entered into Spiderdome. Personally, I prefer it to be Spiderdome. I get entertainment, Michigan Spiders gets another match to display, and the spider gets a chance to become the new champion that will be pampered with a good life style and a lifetime supply of crickets.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hahriette - The first Champion of "Beyond Spider Dome"

Meet Hahriette, a Daring Jumping Spider, and the current champion of "Beyond Spider Dome".

Hahriette the Daring Jumping Spider at Michigan Spiders

I caught Hahriette on my bedroom blinds back in January and with it being so cold outside, I didn't have the heart to toss it out. However, my wife does not like spiders and didn't want me to keep it around, so I did the only thing I could do. I took her to work and kept her in a plastic container.

I have been stopping at Petco once every couple weeks to by a few small crickets and she would feast on them, one every day or two until they ran out and I would wait a week before buying more. A gruesome but interesting thing I noticed is that Hahriette tends to eat the crickets from the back first. Almost every time, she would consume everything but one jumping leg and the head. I believe she doesnt like the head and the one leg just happens to fall loose as she eats.

It is a common believe that spiders will catch their prey and suck the blood from them. The truth is the fangs are used to inject venom and somewhat to hold the pray as it eats. Spiders actually do have mouth parts they use to actually eat their prey.

Near the end of February, Hahriette started spinning a web. This surprised me because to my knowledge, Jumping Spiders only used web as anchor lines. They will attach the web to the surface they are on before they jump or when they walk on ceilings or such. This way, if they miss the jump or fall from the surface, they have the safety line to catch them. In this case, Hahriette started creating a sac in the corner of her cage and then once it was thick enough, she crawled into it. It turns out that jumping spiders will do this to molt. A few days later, she crawled out of the web, leaving behind a shell of herself.

Hahriette the Daring Jumpingt Spider at Michigan Spiders


Presently, Hahriette has orange spots on her back. This is typical for younger jumping spiders. As they become adults, the spots will change from orange to white. I am expecting the spots to change the next time she sheds her outer shell.

Twice since I have had her, I have played what I now refer to as "Beyond Spider Dome". In both cases, I found Steotodas which I placed in the container with Hahriette. I had read before that the Steatoda is known for hunting dangerous spiders like Black Widows, and I wanted to know what would happen between them. Since I still Have Hahriette, the answer to what happened is obvious. Hahriette is the reigning champion of Spider Dome. In both cases, she wasted no time in moving into position and leaping on the Steotoda to make a quick meal of the smaller spider. I am looking forward to seeing what happens if I put a Wolf Spider of comparable size in with her.

At full size, Hahriette is approximately 5/8 of an inch including the legs. If she was to spread them out, I might say 3/4". The picture below is not the best quality, but it is good for understanding her size, since everyone is familiar with the size of a quarter.


Hahriette seams to be thriving in the container I have for her. I may look into moving her into one a little larger soon. As a little something different, I think I will be reporting on future episodes of Spider Dome. I will not be venturing outside to look for opponents, but any spider that ventures into my domain, will be doing so at the risk of entering "Beyond Spider Dome" and facing the current champion. I do hope that will continue to be Hahriette. We will see.  :o)