There's a Spider in My Bathtub
First, you can take comfort in knowing that the question is commonly heard in households with bathtubs around the world. Spiders and bathtubs go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Most arachnologists will tell you that people commonly see spiders in bathtubs because wandering male house spiders travel around the house during autumn and winter when it is cold outside. They accidentally fall into the bathtub and are unable to escape because of the tub's slippery sides.
Types of Spiders
Given the configuration of most modern plumbing systems, it is highly unlikely that the spider crawled up through the drain.
The second suggestion would be to check your math. It is not uncommon for people to exaggerate the size of a spider on first sight. If the spider in the tub is really the size of a tennis ball, like the one pictured here, there is good news. Your spider is most likely not the more dangerous hobo or recluse spider. It is probably a giant house spider (egenaria duellica) that can measure up to three inches in diameter with its legs extended.
The third course of action is optional, depending on the number and squeamishness levels of the household members. You can either call on the least squeamish household member to deal with the problem, or you may already be the least squeamish member of the household. In that case, you can trap the spider under a glass, slide a sturdy piece of cardboard beneath the opening, and carry and release the spider in the outdoors.
Please remember to release the spider some distance from your house, or chances are he will soon visit again. House spiders rank among the speediest spiders on earth and yours may very well race you back home.
Ticks on Humans
Ticks, the eight legged arachnids related to spiders, commonly get lumped into the scourge of outdoor enthusiasts category.
The label carries some justification, because although the vast majority of tick bites are not a cause for medical concern, some ticks carry diseases that can be harmful to human health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a common sense, four step tick bite prevention guide for everyone who participates in outdoor activities:
- Recognize Tick Habitat: Ticks can be found in woodlands and grassy areas around the United States. Usually they live on branches and grasses close to the ground in order to more easily attach themselves to animals and humans wandering in the area. Staying on managed trails when hiking can be a very effective preventative measure.
- Wear Proper Clothing: Because staying on trails is not always a practical option during outdoor activities, wearing long sleeved pants and shirts can be effective tick bite prevention tools. Clothing represent a first line barrier between the tick and your skin. Wearing light color clothes adds an additional element of tick safety because they make ticks easier to see during periodic tick checks.
- Tuck Pants into Socks: A tick's affinity for close to the ground habitat increases the possibility of their attaching themselves to shoes and lower pant areas. Tucking pants into socks provides an additional barrier between the tick and your skin.
- Use DEET: DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) is a common chemical ingredient found in many over the counter insect repellents. Always follow the application directions to insure its safe use, especially with children.
The case of the red spider interests many casual observers, probably because a red spider is a rarity in the spider world.
The small red hourglass marking on the Black Widow might be the most familiar red associated with spiders, however, there are a few species that show more red on the body than any other color.
The top picture shows a common orb weaving spider in the Araneus genus, Araneus trifolium, although red is not the common species' color.
A few of the antmimics, Family Corinnidae, flower crab spiders (genus Misumena) and jumping spiders have either partial or completely red bodies.
Otherwise, most spiders, especially the hunting spiders, settle for a mottle brown or dark body because of their need for camouflage during their hunting forays.
Do Daddy-longlegs Bite?
The name daddy-longlegs is given to a type of harvestmen in the Opiliones order.
Opiliones, like spiders and scorpions are arachnids, so there are always questions about whether or not they follow spider practices and bite humans.
The picture at the top of the page provides a close up view of a harvestman, more commonly known as a daddy-longlegs.
The two eyes easily identifies it as a daddy-longlegs. Spiders have either six or eight eyes, depending on the species.
The picture also shows the dark fang looking parts below the eyes. They are pedipalps. The chelicerae are the lighter colored mouth parts immediately below the darker pedipalps.
By just looking at the picture, it sure looks as if they can bite. It also seems reasonable to assume that since they are omnivorous, eating insects, plants and fruit, they would have to bite or chew the food to eat it.
Sometimes the words people choose to explain things are a bit confusing. Certainly daddy-longlegs eat. However, discussions about spider or daddy-longleg bites technically refers to their ability to use fangs to inject venom into prey to kill it.
Daddy-longlegs do not have fangs or venom for killing prey, and therefore there is no need for humans to be concerned about being bitten by them.
© 2007-2013. Patricia A. Michaels