Eastern Parson Spider - Herpyllus ecclesiasticus
Family Gnaphosidae - Ground Spiders
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Live adult eastern parson spider photographed indoors. Size: 12 mm
I found this spider in my house but I suspect it had somehow wandered in and was not in its native habitat. I have never seen one before or since, thank jah. This is a pretty big spider. I don't want big, black spiders in my house. As it happens, spiders of this sort are very secretive, and true to type, this one was determined to avoid my camera flash. She was very adept at hiding behind picture frames.  (Hope that doesn't scare you - that they hide behind picture frames.) Believe it or not, she was able to elude me and I never saw her again. Yikes.

On a lighter note, their common name derives from the dorsal abdominal stripe resembling an old-style cravat worn by clergy in the 18th century. [2]

The ground spiders include nearly 2,000 described species in over 100 genera worldwide. Ground spiders are characterized by their longer cylindrical anterior spinnerets being far enough apart that the median spinners are visible.

Ground spiders do not build webs for prey capture, but are active nocturnal hunters, mostly of other spiders. [1] They chase down their prey much like the wolf spiders (family Lycosidae) or the jumping spiders (family Salticidae).  They spend the day in a silken retreat. The thick-walled egg sacs are guarded by the mother until the spiderlings hatch. [3]

Parson Spider

The proverbial big black hairy spider
The proverbial big black hairy spider
 
 
References
  1. Thomas Eisner, Maria Eisner, and Melody Siegler, Secret Weapons: Defenses of Insects, Spiders, Scorpions, and Other Many-Legged Creatures (Belknap Press, 2005).
  2. Bugguide.net, Herpyllus ecclesiasticus (Eastern Parson Spider)
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Class Arachnida / Order Araneae: Spiders are the largest group of arachnids.  They are easily recognized by their eight legs, and there are few creatures great or small that elicit such irrational fear in mankind. The vast majority of spiders are completely harmless and offer beneficial services, chief of which is keeping the burgeoning insect population in check. I am continually amazed at the resourcefulness of these supremely successful predators.
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