another spider gets a name

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about some of the spiders that we encountered while at Richardson Grove in the redwoods. Most particularly, I mentioned a very large spider found in a towel atop the picnic table at our campsite. It looked to be a Tarantula of some kind (see photos below), but I’ve had very limited contact with such spiders — just a couple of captive exotic species owned by friends back home — so asked for comments from readers.

A couple of you offered suggestions of IDs. As well, I did a bit of looking around on the net and couldn’t seem to find anything that looked quite the same and might be found in the same range. It then occurred to me to email Steve Lew who had so kindly identified a Turret Spider that my friend and I found last October near Trinidad, California. Within minutes, Steve came through with the following info:

That’s Calisoga, family Nemesiidae. I believe that both Calisoga longitarsus and C. theveneti occur in Humboldt County. Humboldt County is too wet and cold for real tarantulas.

With this new information, I did a bit more looking around online and found this page about Calisoga longitarsus. The description states:

Calisoga are similar in appearance and movement to tarantulas. However, they are not quite as hairy and the pubescence is more similar to velvet. When threatened these spiders rear back to position fangs for a strike.

The description does match up quite well with my own observations. I’d describe the spider that I saw as being more velvety than hairy — and, in fact, it was quite a lovely creature. And, as you can see in the above photo, it did rear up to expose its fangs when it felt that it might be threatened by me.

I did a little more checking beyond this and found some info about Calisoga spiders in a comment to a post archived in the Arachnoboards forum. It is part of a discussion between members who were trying to ID a spider that was probably similar to the one that I found at Richardson Grove. One of the members posted this interesting little bit of information:

I sent an email message to a Dr. Vincent (a professor at Fullerton College) and he was kind enough to reply. I also found some additional links based on his information. Here’s his reply:

“How nice, and unusual, to get a good physical and behavioral description. I am sure that your spider is in the genus Calisoga (formerly Brachythele) and in the family Nemesiidae (formerly Dipluridae). I mention the old names in case you have an opportunity to look up the spider in older yet common spider books (American Spiders by Gertsch and How to Know the Spiders by Kaston). I too remember how aggressive Calisoga is. You should not try to pick it up with your hands, it will bite. Although the common name is funnel-web tarantula, it is not a true tarantula. California tarantulas are docile and can be picked up by hand.

So, there you have it — a couple of bytes of info gleaned about Calisoga spiders. As always, I’m amazed at home much info can be found via the internet.

  • Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Trackback URI:
  • Comments RSS 2.0

11 Responses to “another spider gets a name”

  1. Dave Says:

    I still think they’re viewed better from a distance. Yikes!

  2. Cathy Wilson Says:

    ” . . . Quite a lovely creature . . .” Well, Bev – I’m just not quite there with you :0) {{Shiver}} And this one has the adjective ‘aggressive’ and the warning ‘will bite’ attached to it. More {{ Shivers}} My husband is freaking out because we’ve discovered a couple yellow sac spiders inside our house this fall. I tried to reassure him that they’re not aggressive and I haven’t panicked, but this lovely creature would have me running for the door.

  3. bev Says:

    Dave – Well, given that they are supposed to have a good bite, maybe they *are* better viewed from a distance. (-:

    Cathy – I think it’s safe to say that a good number of people would have joined you in running for the door if the above spider sprang out of their bath towel. I didn’t run, but I do recall having a mild start and saying something like, “Holy crap!” while quickly reaching for my camera.

  4. Wayne Says:

    I noticed that it was clinging to an intimate article. How clever it was.

    When I saw the previous post I was especially enamoured, thinking tarantula as well. And how clever of you, in not the best of communication circumstances, to have employed your wiles and discovered what the creature actually was.

    However aggressive, it’s quite handsome.

  5. Curtis Says:

    I have found this spider (Calistoga) in my garage in Lake Tahoe on the West Shore at elevation 6,800 feet. I found this spider in my garage two times about two years apart in time.It was highly aggressive, rearing back and exposing its fangs getting ready to strike.I think it even made a hissing noise. Anyway, I was very surprised to find it here at this elevation because not too many insects exist here.I recently watched a tv show on the Funnel Web Spider of Australia. The Calistoga Spider that I found in my garage looked just like the Funnel Web Spider of Australia.They both look alike, are highly aggressive and in my mind very creepy.

  6. Eric Fidjeland Says:

    I’m glad you were able to find out that it was Calisoga longitarsus, the “Aggressive False Tarantula”, and were able to clarify that for the previous posts. Calisoga has been a favorite subject of mine ever since I first read about it several years ago. I knew that they’d been found in Marin County, CA. Now I’m really excited, as I live in Humboldt about an hour north of Richardson Grove. I’ll have to go spider watching this fall! And great photos…May I ask what kind of camera you used to get such nice close-ups?

    The orb-weavers you saw look a lot like Araneus diadematus, the Cross-garden spider, but not really sure…they tend to be variable. A. diadematus is an introduced species.

    Thanks for the info — Eric

  7. bev Says:

    Hi Eric – Thanks for leaving some comments about the spiders. Agree that the orb-weavers look like A. diadematus. Most of the time, I use a Nikon CP8800, and also a Nikon CP4500.

  8. Kathryn Says:

    what???? why would u show us that picture????????????????

  9. Kathryn Says:

    that is a creepy spider!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Where did you find this website

  10. Kathryn Says:

    Doesd it have 8 legs and 2 antenna’s
    isn’t it odd that u had ur camera right then????

  11. Nat Says:

    Hey, I got bit by one of those today! I live in Sonoma County, under the redwoods. I was trying to identify what it was. I was digging and apparently disturbed its nest, might have cut off one of its legs. So it gave me a a good chomp when I was scooping some dirt aside.

    It also appeared to be pregnant or in the middle of giving birth — live birth, not laying eggs. Sorry to say, I killed it either with a spade or when I flung it from my hand. Anyway, I guess i personally can confirm the aggressive part. 6 hours later the bite stings about like a yellow jacket bite.