Family Pholcidae – Vibrating Spiders

Vibrating Spiders – Family Pholcidae
Video & photographs of live vibrating
spiders at northern Illinois.
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Pholcidae Eye Arrangement

There is an old wives' tale about this family of spiders, viz. that their bite is the most dangerous, or their venom is the most lethal known to man. These spiders have not the equipment for delivery of any but the tiniest amounts of venom, and that dangerous only to the smallest of creatures, flies and other spiders, etc. People love to be afraid of spiders, especially ones that like to live where we live, but these guys are completely harmless, even beneficial. (I don't tolerate then in my actual living space, but the garage is ok although I do tire of sweeping up the insect bits and pieces they are constantly dropping on the floor after meals.)

I found this specimen living in close proximity to Steatoda  cobweb spiders in my garage. These spiders probably prey upon each other when the pickings get slim in the wintertime, but as of September, there are still enough flying insects visiting for all to coexist peacefully. It is said these spiders, when threatened, vibrate their legs and bodies so rapidly as to become invisible; hence their other common name: vibrating spider. Actually, what they do is spin themselves in a small circle – it's really quite a sight!

Vibrating spider vibrating

1. Authors: H.V. Weems, Jr., and G.B. Edwards, Jr., Florida Dept. of Ag, Entomology Circular 193.
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