thousands of wolf spiders staring at me
August 2, 2014 3:58 PM   Subscribe

Let's go Headlighting for Spiders! [PDF, 1978] Found some. Found-- WHOA!

The large posterior eyes of wolf spiders include a reflective layer, the tapetum lucidum, behind the retina which causes eyeshine. More, much more, on spider anatomy from Australia's Find-a-spider Guide.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (62 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Let's nope.
posted by Cookiebastard at 4:03 PM on August 2, 2014 [19 favorites]


Welcome to the land of hellnoimnotclicking.
posted by datawrangler at 4:05 PM on August 2, 2014 [13 favorites]


This is so great to do! They pretty much don't pay any attention to you, and you can walk right up and see what they are eating.

I showed a bunch of people this at a quite drunken party one night. The reactions to the hundreds of eyes was...mixed.
posted by thebrokedown at 4:15 PM on August 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


you can walk right up and see what they are eating

...which would probably be the mortal remains of the last creature to try this.

No arachnophobia to see here, folks; nosirnotme.
posted by datawrangler at 4:18 PM on August 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


To slightly contradict/correct the author if you hold a flashlight base or your forehead (unicorn style) it definitely works.

Source: me as a kid at summer camp in the rural American south.
posted by NervousVarun at 4:19 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm usually okay clicking on things people make "NOPENOPENOPE" comments about...but not in this case.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:31 PM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oooh this is so cool! I've got to try this tonight. Wolf spiders are my allies.
posted by kinnakeet at 4:32 PM on August 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


"Mothafucker, you in the wrong neighborhood."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:33 PM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wolf spiders are harmless, ya'll. I found a scorpion in my bathroom last week (and a mouse in my kitchen two days ago) and let me tell you, I'll take a wolf spider any day.
posted by emjaybee at 4:33 PM on August 2, 2014 [8 favorites]


Spiders are actually quite decent as far as bugs go. Make a bit of noise and vibration as warning. They don't mind you and politely flee so long as you grant them an avenue of egress. I worked in The South wriggling under houses for a few years and never suffered a single bite from the certainly hundreds, perhaps thousands, of black widows and fiddlebacks and others that must have been there. On Mt. Diablo east of San Francisco there are thousands of tarantulas that migrate annually for mating purposes. You can hold your hand on the concrete and they crawl across barely noticing the obstacle.

Spiders don't targed humans, mostly.

They also have amazing hydraulic legs.
posted by vapidave at 4:39 PM on August 2, 2014 [13 favorites]


can verify - this scout counselor taught many a tenderfoot 'spider hunting'. [we used the flashlight-on-the-nose method]
posted by j_curiouser at 4:41 PM on August 2, 2014


We used to poke at wolf spiders with sticks to watch them just grab and bite at the stick furiously like, well, I guess like little wolves. I never got bit by one, but spent much of my teen years in terror of the possibility.
posted by maxsparber at 4:59 PM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Aw, I wanted to see thousands of wolf spiders but there weren't. Thanks for the post, though - I will try headlighting when it's spider season where I am!
posted by gingerest at 5:02 PM on August 2, 2014


I wanted to see thousands of wolf spiders

Agreed, not nope enough for me either.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 5:14 PM on August 2, 2014


Came for the Nope, stayed for the Nope.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:16 PM on August 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


Earlier this year I took members of a young naturalists society out on a night walk to do just this. We had about 35 kids ranging in age from 2 to 14 and their parents. I've never seen such delight at seeing wolf spider eye shine, nor such enthusiasm in catching different (non-venomous) spiders for identification (and subsequent release)!
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 5:20 PM on August 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


There's not enough nope even if you split the nopium atom.
posted by eriko at 5:20 PM on August 2, 2014 [16 favorites]


There are some words that shouldn't be put togther with the word spider.

Wolfspider, for example. I imagine that Leechspider would be pretty bad too, or Eelspider, or Dinospider.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:21 PM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


The "thousands" is in the title of the second link; but yeah, the photo is more like "tens". They don't really photograph well.

I've experienced "hundreds" running in the hills with a headlamp at dusk-shading-into-night; it's a little unnerving. I've also found that moonlight is enough to see spider eyeshine, if it's a clear night with a full-ish moon behind you.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:23 PM on August 2, 2014


There are some words that shouldn't be put together with the word spider.

"Jumping".

(EYES so many EYES)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:30 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


also, "spitting".
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:38 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]




There are some words that shouldn't be put together with the word spider.

"Jumping".

(EYES so many EYES)


Shut your mouth. Jumping spiders are fucking ADORABLE.
posted by dazed_one at 5:42 PM on August 2, 2014 [8 favorites]


Ebola-spider has a nice ring to it.

But for real, "running."
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:44 PM on August 2, 2014


As the first link's PDF file title says: No no no no no no no no no no no no!
posted by herrdoktor at 5:45 PM on August 2, 2014


There's a particular cave in the Peppersauce Canyon cave network near Oracle, AZ that is pretty much a long, narrow, diagonally-oriented squeeze between two humongous slabs of rock. I've got my kid memories on so it might be shorter than I remember, but it seems like it seemed like forever getting to the back of the cave. You scooch on your back and butt along this passage, and the other slab of rock bounces your breath back at you, and it's very claustrophobic. There's a tiny bubble of a room at the end of the cave, maybe 5 feet in diameter, barely large enough to stand up in and basically a big empty sphere of space. My first (and only) time down this cave I had my light off for whatever reason and when I reached this room I got myself situated and turned it on to see what I could see.

What I saw was 8,567,433 wolf spiders staring at me, each within grasping distance.

Fastest. Shimmy. Ever.
posted by carsonb at 5:49 PM on August 2, 2014 [22 favorites]


Jumping spiders are fucking ADORABLE.

The Google Image search for them suggests "cute" as a subcategory.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:50 PM on August 2, 2014


I felt a disturbance in the force right when this post was made. Now I know what caused it. o_o
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:56 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


ooOO|OOoo
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:01 PM on August 2, 2014 [28 favorites]


"dancing"
posted by Sys Rq at 6:09 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I looked at a database of spiders and saw the words "spiny" and "sac" in there somewhere. I couldn't finish my investigation.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:11 PM on August 2, 2014


/\/\/\(ooOO|OOoo)/\/\/\
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:13 PM on August 2, 2014 [23 favorites]


ᄽὁȍ ̪ őὀᄿ - that's a horrible looking spider
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:15 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


c.f.(best post title ever).
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:18 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Bird-eating

Also, the wolf spider is the official state spider of South Carolina, the only state to have a state spider (assuming some stoned college students didn't just put that in Wikipedia for the hell of it).
posted by TedW at 6:27 PM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I love MeFi spider threads -- I learn so many new ways to say "noperdoodle"
posted by travertina at 6:44 PM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mt. Diablo? Tarantulas? I did not need to know that.
I live way too close to Mt. Tarantula.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:54 PM on August 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


> There's a particular cave in the Peppersauce Canyon cave network near Oracle, AZ that is pretty much a long, narrow, diagonally-oriented squeeze between two humongous slabs of rock. I've got my kid memories on so it might be shorter than I remember, but it seems like it seemed like forever getting to the back of the cave. You scooch on your back and butt along this passage, and the other slab of rock bounces your breath back at you, and it's very claustrophobic. There's a tiny bubble of a room at the end of the cave, maybe 5 feet in diameter, barely large enough to stand up in and basically a big empty sphere of space. My first (and only) time down this cave I had my light off for whatever reason and when I reached this room I got myself situated and turned it on to see what I could see.

What I saw was 8,567,433 wolf spiders staring at me, each within grasping distance. Fastest. Shimmy. Ever.


--

You enter a long, narrow, daigonally-oriented squeeze between two humongous slabs of rock. You scooch on your back and butt along this passage, and the other slab of rock bounces your breath back at you. It's very claustrophobic. There's a tiny bubble of a room at the end of the cave, maybe 5 feet in diameter, barely large enough to stand up in and basically a big empty sphere of space.

What do I do?

>Turn on Light

You see 8,567,433 wolf spiders staring at you, each within grasping distance.

What do I do?

>Scream like a baby.

I don't understand "baby."

What do I do?

>Shimmy out of there.

You shimmy out of the cave as fast as possible.

You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here.

What do I do?

>Open the mailbox.

Opening the mailbox reveals:

A wolf spider jumps out and eats you.

You have scored 0 out of 1450 possible points in four moves.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:05 PM on August 2, 2014 [23 favorites]


I am so trying this tonight.

I went down into the garden a few nights ago and down near the bottom of the stairs, something caught my eye - it looked like something floating in mid-air, just to the right of the stairs. It was a orb weaver, a big one, building a huge web that stretched across a good four feet from the staircase railing and uprights to the grape arbor. I made sure I wasn't about to snag a web line. She was gone the next day - but maybe she's still in the garden somewhere. That would be awesome.
posted by rtha at 7:29 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is the best thing to show people. It works with all kinds of spiders. Imagine how many you think are around you at night, and this trick will show you that you're wildly underestimating that number.
posted by odinsdream at 7:56 PM on August 2, 2014


...also the best kind of light is a single powerful LED held at your temple. Basically get the smallest angle between the imaginary triangle formed by your eye, the spiders' eyes and the light beam.
posted by odinsdream at 8:02 PM on August 2, 2014


With a half-silvered mirror and some fiddling you could put an LED optically exactly where your eye is.
posted by Pyry at 8:19 PM on August 2, 2014


From the second link:
So I want to make sure I am not hallucinating about the effect or the number of spiders. I grab Leigh, take her outside and put the headlight on her head. “What do you see?” I ask her. I have not told her a thing. “You’ve discovered diamonds?” she says. She is seeing the same reflections. You don’t see it with a normal flashlight. I guess the light has to be close to your eyes to get the angle of reflection right. I tell her to go investigate one of the reflections. She is not particularly happy.

GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE.
posted by JHarris at 8:24 PM on August 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


When I was five years old, our teacher read us Charlotte's Web. A room full of children wept at the end. I am, therefore, predisposed to be pro-spider, even in the face of all commonsense.
posted by SPrintF at 8:31 PM on August 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Somewhat related, scorpions actually fluoresce in UV light, so you can do this with a UV flashlight and get creeped out at the millions of scorpions awaiting you in your dark back yard.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:34 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have a better story about shiny things in the dark, I feel a little bad for spider cave. That one was scary. This one is magical.

North of San Luis Obispo on the central California coast there's a campground under the Cerro Alto peak. Two hiking trails lead to the summit, from which you can see for miles and miles in every direction. The first one is more direct and therefore shorter, but uphill every single step to the top. The other is a bit longer, a lot wider, and gently winds its way back into the crook of the valley before gently climbing to the peak.

We hiked up the steep trail, slowly, enjoying the late summer sun on our necks and talking about "getting high." Summiting. Near to the top we were passed by some local firefighters who apparently were in the habit of a timed ascent daily, they practically ran up the mountain. We finally met them up at the top, re-greeted, and watched them practically pell-mell back down to sea level. Cerro Alto overlooks the Pacific, and in the late summer, near sunset, you can watch the marine layer roll in over the craggy green mountains. It overlooks everything; I'm not sure because I didn't bring any binoculars then, but before the sun went down I thought I could just make out Hearst Castle in the distance to the North. We dropped our bags, put up our hoods, and talked the sun into the roiling ocean. It was breathtaking to say the least.

The longer, gentler path was the better route back to camp in the dark, and we meandered. That was last summer, around the time of that planetary triangulation in the Western evening sky, and there were sunset benches along the way that we took full advantage of. The path wandered down into the valley, the moon so bright we turned off our lights even as the trees crept up over our heads, eventually joining into one of those tree tunnels. I realized I could see the stars in the black sky even through the blotting trees, and then my friend gasped. "Stars."

I said I saw them in the sky and they were beautiful, but she wasn't looking up. She pointed out, into the forest, and I saw that the sky continued below us and into the forest. Inky ground sparkled and shone with stars just as bright and myriad as the ones above, and it was as dizzying as reaching that boundary above between Earth and sky.

We didn't really do all that reverie, we were pretty much like WTF right away and turned on our headlamps. It was bio-luminescent worms, tiny little pink things when you shone your light on the rocks, but then we turned off our lamps again and enjoyed the magic twinkly forest tunnel space path.
posted by carsonb at 9:36 PM on August 2, 2014 [15 favorites]


Don't know why one has to go all the way to Colorado; according to the BBC, you just have to go and visit a friend in a flat in Glasgow for arachnoid fun.
posted by Wordshore at 2:13 AM on August 3, 2014


is it only wolf spiders that have the reflecting eyes? would this work in a backyard in, for example, Toronto? because if so I have a great activity idea for next time I host a girl's night
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:37 AM on August 3, 2014


Disappointed I never knew of this phenomenon despite growing up semi-feral, chasing all manner of invertebrates through dark rural nights in Colorado.
posted by univac at 4:20 AM on August 3, 2014


I was out in my yard late last night with an LED headlamp, and sadly saw no spiders though I tried. The dew in the grass looked cool, though, and I got chirped at by an indignant bird when I looked up at a bush. Maybe tonight.
posted by kinnakeet at 4:34 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


We didn't really do all that reverie, we were pretty much like WTF right away and turned on our headlamps. It was bio-luminescent worms, tiny little pink things when you shone your light on the rocks, but then we turned off our lamps again and enjoyed the magic twinkly forest tunnel space path.

You are lucky to still be alive.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:36 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Reporting from Georgia. Last night, I found several tiny spiders in the yard through headlighting. I tried both incandescent and LED flashlights and got bright retroreflections regardless. All of the reflections from spider eyes had a green hue ( as mentioned in the linked PDF; happily, I saw no big orange reflections! ). Very entertaining -- even if one has no interest in collecting spiders.
posted by Kikkoman at 6:52 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


@vapidave. San Jose's Joseph D. Grant County Park also has a healthy population of tarantulas. I encountered these 8 legged j-walkers quite unexpectedly on Mt. Hamilton Rd to the Lick Observatory.

Also, "The spiders are so abundant on Mount Diablo that the state park has posted cautionary "Tarantula Crossing" signs at the north and south entrances of the 20,000-acre park. Henry W. Coe State Park celebrates the season with an annual TarantulaFest." (Mercury News)
posted by xtian at 9:26 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


The bestest thing about wolf spiders.

(I can hear you all squealing from here!)
posted by mudpuppie at 9:37 AM on August 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


The Henry W. Coe State Park's Tarantula Festival is the highlight of our fall, we never miss it because the park ranger jug band is pretty awesome.

I live in that same mountain range, there's a lovely tarantula living in my curb mounted mailbox. Every so often an extra large load of mail gets delivered and I always worry that s/he got squished but no, s/he always pops up from under the sheets of the Penny Saver.
posted by jamaro at 4:49 PM on August 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


That mama wolf spider video - so very wriggly.
posted by gingerest at 6:42 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


COLORADO EH?

I hate spiders, let's find some. I stay up 'til 4AM often and they tend to offend me when found indoors. I don't think the wolfs usually wander in, more like hobos or house spiders or whatever the fizz.

Once I spun around and looked at the very door I had just emerged from, caught this sucker. It then started trying to crawl across the door after a few camera flashes (the steady light didn't bother him but the flash did) and I kicked the surrounding wood to discourage him. Then he fell down right on top of a june bug or some shit that I was hoping another spider nearby would get, and disappeared. They disappear really fucking fast.

You can sort of see the reflection of the flash against the eyes, assuming those are the eyes...
posted by aydeejones at 8:55 PM on August 3, 2014


[genuinely tried not-gendering spider, did not edit sufficiently, heh]
posted by aydeejones at 8:59 PM on August 3, 2014


Here's a squicker-outer though -- a few weeks ago a jumping spider was up above me in the bathroom and I don't normally target them for termination, but it was making me all nervous nonetheless, and I ended up swatting it in such a way that it just sort of splatted (a smaller one) and it was hard to get at, so I left it there for a couple of hours. When I returned, I heard a tiny "leaves being crushed" sound and and realized an earwig was eating the dead spider. I vanquished the earwig and out of morbid curiosity left the spider carcass there. Sure enough, the following night, another fucking earwig is eating the spider. This bathroom is near the backyard and crappily sealed off, apparently. Windows need screens and more than that...renting, can't wait to get a new place!
posted by aydeejones at 9:02 PM on August 3, 2014


[genuinely tried not-gendering spider, did not edit sufficiently, heh]

FWIW, you got it right! Those boxing glove looking dealies up front are his junk.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:18 PM on August 3, 2014




I, for one...
posted by Sys Rq at 8:14 AM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


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