Brown Recluse


The Brown Recluse is a common venomous spider that we encounter almost exclusively in the house, though they are reported to live outdoors as well. We tend to find them in corners of rooms and other locations that get little disturbance. The one in the photo was hanging out in the guest bedroom shower (shortly before I cleaned the shower in anticipation of the arrival of a guest). Brown Recluse are good motivation for keeping piles of clutter to a minimum and piles of clothing off of the floor, since these locations provide them with habitat and hiding places.

In spite of the commonness of these spiders, neither of us has ever (to our knowledge) been bitten, although we have jumped on more than one occasion as a result of a close encounter.

American Dog Tick

The adult American Dog Tick is one of the larger tick species at Chert Hollow Farm. Most of the time, we feel these crawling across the skin and pluck them off before they attach, because their size gives away their location. Even so, an occasional embedded tick happens. This is cause for concern, as ticks can carry a variety of disease-causing pathogens.

Populations vary greatly from year to year. Tick populations (in general) were very high in spring of 2013, when this photo was taken.



Black Widow Spider

Black Widow females have a very distinctive look: a black, shiny body with bold red spots. The web appears tangled & unstructured.

The female Black Widow in the photo was hanging out on the inside of an infrequently used rusty bucket that had been turned upside down to prevent it from collecting water that would provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Instead, we apparently provided good habitat for a venomous spider.

The upperside has some red spotting:


Ventral view with the classic red hourglass:


The males look very different than the females (and are also smaller):


2013 seems to have been a banner year for Black Widows here. Previously, we saw one maybe every year or two, but in 2013 we observed numerous specimens. We pretty quickly learned that chaotic-looking webs were a warning sign that one might be around. The chaotic web (see left part of the photo below) was what drew my attention to this egg sack on a ladder rung. There was a female behind the egg sack (out of view in this photo). The ladder had recently been brought into our bedroom, but it didn’t stay there long! Photo was taken outdoors.