Cave Spiders

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Cave Spiders

Postby Buford » Feb 1, 2011 10:55 am

I frequently find cave spiders in Florida's air-filled caves, especially small caves with multiple entrances. Over the past 40+ years, I have watched for Florida cave spider info in the Bulletin and JCKS, all to no avail. Internet searches pull up some info on cave spiders and Florida spiders, but only anecdotal text and photos of any cave spiders found in Florida. Are there any arachnophiles out there in speleoland that might know what this spider is (photos posted in my blog re Brain Fungus Cave):

http://onrappel.blogspot.com/2011/02/br ... -cave.html

The closest id I have come up with so far is Meta ovalis, but that species is not supposed to occur south of north Georgia. Also, the Florida specimen does not have the color pattern shown in Alan Cressler's Flickr pic:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=meta%20 ... 9293%40N02


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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby BrianC » Feb 1, 2011 12:04 pm

How deep into the cave is it found? Twilight, total darkness? Could it be opportunistic using the cave as its home?
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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby Buford » Feb 1, 2011 1:02 pm

They are typically within twilight and total darkness. The pictured spider was probably in dim twilight, being only about 20 ft from the entrance.

I do not know of its troglophilic tendencies. This kind of spider is frequent in our caves, but not having an obvious way to id them, I have never collected them. I suppose all these years I could have been looking at multiple species. This one, however, I photographed and reviewed it with online pics, and this animal and its spider web features do look quite similar to troglophilic Meta species.
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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby KeyserSoze » Feb 1, 2011 1:20 pm

I too have searched for information on cave spiders to no avail. In Kentucky we seem to encounter only a few different species. At the very least I would like to know if they are poisonous. Somewhere there has to be a book or a thesis with information on cave spiders, right?
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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby BrianC » Feb 1, 2011 3:56 pm

It looks like a male black widow spider, but arachnid specialist would be better to answer this.http://www.dpughphoto.com/images/false%20black%20widow%20steatoda%20durham%20123005.JPG False black widow
http://www.dpughphoto.com/spiders.htm
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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby wyandottecaver » Feb 1, 2011 9:19 pm

*edit* I had guessed Ovalis...but you already addressed that. And *I* am the one griping about ppl not reading posts :rofl:
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby WVCaver2011 » Feb 2, 2011 7:15 pm

Interesting thread. I too have been curious if certain cave spiders are poisonous. I know Black Widow spiders like cold dark places and a cave really seems to fit that profile. I've never seen a Black Widow spider in a cave before but I have seen them under rocks and such in West Virginia.

I've been bit by cave spiders before but I'm still here (thank god). I try not to disturb ANY cave spiders basically because I dont piss them off.
There's nothing that makes me more excited than finding a place underground that no one has ever seen or been in!

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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby rlboyce » Feb 2, 2011 8:59 pm

LOL, the cave spiders around here look nasty, and they appear to be some type of orb weaver. They say the bite isn't too bad to humans.

Found some tight virgin passage with those things crawling ALL OVER the walls. Spiders are up there on the list of things I really hate, but somehow I convinced myself to squirm through the passage anyway. Virgin passage can make one desperate. :big grin:
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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby WVCaver2011 » Feb 2, 2011 9:38 pm

rlboyce wrote:LOL, the cave spiders around here look nasty, and they appear to be some type of orb weaver. They say the bite isn't too bad to humans.

Found some tight virgin passage with those things crawling ALL OVER the walls. Spiders are up there on the list of things I really hate, but somehow I convinced myself to squirm through the passage anyway. Virgin passage can make one desperate. :big grin:


Been there done that :tonguecheek:
There's nothing that makes me more excited than finding a place underground that no one has ever seen or been in!

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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby Joseph W. Dixon » Feb 13, 2011 11:06 pm

Pics may not be enough, but you could try sending an email to Pierre Paquin. He is a cave spider expert.

http://nabn.info/Pierre_Paquin.html
http://nature.berkeley.edu/~jledford/page13/page13.html
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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby NS_Caver » Jun 2, 2011 8:24 am

This looks like a common cave spider often found here in NS (and, I'm assuming, in many places). I'm not aware of any danger presented by them (never really thought about it, to be honest).

Let me tell you, though... On a recent exploration, one of the guys went down a vertical passage and quickly scurried back up. We shone the light down the passage and could see - about 20 feet away - a massive web and a spider so big it was clearly visible in the center. Upon closer investigation, it was easily the biggest cave spider I've ever come across - the body must have been over an inch (big for one of our guys). Determined it was female, which was interesting and served to shed a bit of light on these creepy crawlies. In all my years of seeing these spiders, I think this was the first time I came across what I would guess was a breeding location.

Now, I will slowly stand up and let out a big shiver. :)
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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby Buford » Jul 8, 2011 9:54 am

I have tried contacting Paquin and a local arachnologist, but neither responded to my emails. I will collect one and see if it can be keyed out using available spider identification keys.
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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby az_underground » Jul 11, 2011 1:50 am

Just got back from a trip where we encountered probably 1000+ daddy long legs in a cave. They were all clumped together and hanging from the ceiling of a smaller passage we had to crawl through to get into the cave, and some would occasionally 'rain' and fall from the ceiling. Even though they were harmless, it was kind of freaky--but it was definitely worth it :grin:

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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby Phil Winkler » Jul 11, 2011 10:20 am

John Graves and I visited a small cave near Cave With No Name in Texas years ago where the walls and ceiling were literally covered with thousands of Harvestman (Daddy-Long-Legs) spiders. As he climbed out of the pit I brushed about a 3 ft of them onto his back. The walls seemed to shimmer with their motions. Almost fur-like. Very weird.
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Re: Cave Spiders

Postby Buford » Jul 11, 2011 11:55 am

My own horror story involved squeezing into a tight fissure entrance passage in the Cueva del Rio Aguayaco in Cuetzalan, Mexico. After I finally was able to worm my way in, with my eyes closed to avoid the rain of dirt, I opened my eyes to see a wall literally covered with adult cucarachas and hylid frogs about an inch from my nose! Ugh! But none of them moved so I continued on in (solo). Yep, I had to endure the gauntlet upon exiting, too.
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