Ah! Spider! BIG Spider!

[Posted separately to ba.garden, too. -- TR]
I was out during an unusually warm evening attempting to reduce the number of pests through direct conflict that generally feast on my garden and trees unfettered from human contact. I was providing this vigilante-style justice to several snails, slugs, pincher bugs, and beetles when I ducked my head into a heavy silken thread stretched the six feet from my persimmon tree to one of my cars.
This type of steel-cabling has usually been a good indicator of a black widow's presence. But the Shelob that greeted me from the middle of her tram was not black nor did she have the tell-tale hourglass in the abdomen. This Behemoth was orange and gray! It had a bulbous body like a blacky but wasn't aggressive.
I've just read an article in Discover Magazine on spiders in the US and immediately thought of the hobo spider. Has anyone else run across this spider or can you provide any other information on it?
The "Arachnophobic" Ranger
PS: She was FAST! Before I finished staring at her, she was back in the persimmon tree and gone for the night.
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Good move!
...

Well, from that description it's hard to tell. However, the good news is that the Black Widow doesn't (usually) weaver her web outdoors. She's very shy and retiring, and is usually found in dark, warm, hidden places--woodpiles, for instance. She also doesn't make that much of a web.
Not knowing where you are, my guess is that what you found was probably one of the orb weavers. While they certainly look threatening, they're harmless (unless you have a distinct "look & feel" like a small bug...(:-o)!).

Well, the Hobo Spider is a member of the funnel web clan (IIRC). So no, it would have a ground based web not a large aerial one. That and the coloration you'd described is wrong.

Good for her! This way she'll be around to help you eliminate those other pesky things that like your garden as much as you do...(:-o)!
L8r all, Dusty
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[snip]

Sorry about the lack of details there; I was quite happy standing my minimum six feet away while I cleaned off her webbing. <shudder> Yeesh!
I've not had too much experience with widow's webs but those in my FILs vineyards tend to be pretty complex, not Charlotte's Web material but grand enough to net flies, honey bees, and meat-bees.

California, Northern Prefecture of our fiefdom.

Great... The thing was as big as a nickel when she was all scrunched up tight! When she took off across the remaining strand, she easily gained in sized to a quarter (although my daughter-units both say larger.) I can understand a small bug's terror at seeing her coming.
<shudder>
I'll just water my persimmon from afar for a while. There's no need for me to get much closer than -- oh -- twenty feet for a while.
The Ranger
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You must not know our So.California black widows. They build webs you'd have to see to believe. When I got this place the #2 house had been vacant for a few months and it was full of black widows and their self-made mansions from wall to wall and floor to ceiling, the webs were worse than any Hollywood spook house you ever saw. I should have taken pictures, it was amazing.
They build big webs outside here too, I have to clean them off my porch regularly. And if I don't bug-bomb the house a couple times a year, they come indoors and build webs just about anywhere that doesn't get traffic for a few days.
They are not like this anywhere else I've been!! In Montana, they hide in window wells and just make a little tunnel web along the building.

This part of the desert is not supposed to have tarantulas, but last year there were a bunch of small ones (up to about 1.5" body, with legs up to about 3") around here, brown and grey and only a little hairy, not aggressive but very fast. I caught one and kept it in a jar for several months, and fed it grasshoppers 2 or 3 times a day. After a few weeks it got so it knew when it was going to be fed, and when it saw me coming with a meal (it could see me at about 3 feet away, apparently well enough to tell if I had dinner with me or not) it would run round and round the jar just like an excited puppy. It could eat a whole grasshopper in less than a minute, munch munch munch, and didn't leave behind anything but the long legs.
Haven't seen any of them this year, probably because we got enough rain that every critter for miles around isn't leeching water from my yard.
~REZ~
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Don't be such a girl...... ;-D <lol>
--
Om.

"My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch." -Jack Nicholson
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[Arachnid Escape]

You're saying that like it's a Bad Thing(sm)! You come remove it from my persimmon tree!
The Ranger
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That's what jars are for! :-)
I like spiders. They are voracious predators of "bad" bugs!
'sides, I was just teasing you... As long as they are outside, I'm ok with them. Just keep them out of the house!
But, the cats think they make great toys......
--
Om.

"My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch." -Jack Nicholson
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Don't laugh too much but I thought of that. If she'd remained curled up I probably would have been able to screw my courage up enough to do it without thinking about the consequenses...

In other people's yards, I agree!

I know. That's why I was pushing you towards it. I'm a very much, "You show me first how it's done" type of guy. (And with spiders, I often need multiple lessons, so I'll happily keep pushing you towards them.)
The Ranger
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<grins> You'd hate my back yard at night... Most of my larger arachnid buddies are nocturnal. I don't see them during the day but have to watch where I walk at night due to all the webs!
I wish I had more of the big bananna spiders in the grapevines. They are diurnal...
I have gourd bird houses put up and they are frequented by house wrens. They eat a lot of diurnal spiders to feed their kids! Great little predators for beetles too.
--
Om.

"My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch." -Jack Nicholson
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On Wed, 31 Aug 2005 08:27:32 -0700, "The Ranger"

http://mamba.bio.uci.edu/~pjbryant/biodiv/spiders/Argiope%20aurantia.htm
http://mamba.bio.uci.edu/~pjbryant/biodiv/spiders/Neoscona%20oaxacensis.htm
http://www.phorid.net/spiders/gallery.htm
and then
http://pep.wsu.edu/pdf/PLS116_1.pdf
Does that help any?
Penelope
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[snip]

http://mamba.bio.uci.edu/~pjbryant/biodiv/spiders/Argiope%20aurantia.htm
http://mamba.bio.uci.edu/~pjbryant/biodiv/spiders/Neoscona%20oaxacensis.htm
Yes! Thank you. I think it's either the Golden Orb Weaver or the Jeweled Araneus. Either way, it was large, fast, and entirely to In-Your-Face-Human for me.
The Ranger
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