39 thoughts on “About me / CV

  1. I recently caught a female western black widow in Utah. It has red spots in a vertical line going down her back. Is this common? I caught one a few weeks ago that did not have these red markings on the back. this is the first time I have seen red on the back of a widow.

    • Western black widows are extremely variable in colouration – some adult females retain the “juvenile” colouration you’re referring to, others are pure black with no hourglass, hourglass shape can vary a lot, etc. So yes, fairly common – but you may see other variations as well!

  2. Pingback: Here’s Why Some Spiders Build Their Webs Near Humans | Upvoted

  3. Hey there. I love your Blog- need a week to read it! But I have a question .

    I live in sub-tropical Hong Kong and we get some great spiders. The most spectacular is a Golden (?) Orb spider which grow to be as big as your hand and they build huge webs.
    I want to know if you know if they can be handled? Are they likely to bite?

    I really want to handle one- just want to check!

    Thanks – Derek

    • Thank you so much for your kind feedback, Derek!

      Spiders in the genus Nephila are beautiful! I hesitate to recommend handling any spider because there is always a risk of injuring the spider and (usually less likely) of injury to the person doing the handling. But to answer your question, no Nephila are not aggressive and there are several videos of people handling them online (here’s an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhS4us-ns6o). If the spider is walking around on your hands, you are just a substrate and there is no reason for it to bite defensively. Please be careful and respectful of the spiders you find, and enjoy them!

  4. Do you have any idea what kind of spider makes a cottony web on the ground? I live in Surrey,Bc Canada we seem to have an infestation of them… The brown spider sits in the earth and awaits its moment. I saw one hauling a wasp into the ground in the early evening last night. I have a couple of nasty spider bites so I am trying to identify them for the Dr.
    Thank you.

      • These are very common on Vancouver Island and in Port Alberni where I live. Many back yards are marred by thousands (?) of holes, some quite large! where they live. They have that web on the grass the enquirer mentions. My back yard is so infested there are places where the ground is collapsing from them! There were once people living in this house who had dogs, and never cleaned up after them. The back yard was a mess, but for spiders it was heaven as it attracted millions of flies. So I guess that is why all the spider holes. People tell me they are wolf spiders, which I gather can bite but are not that venomous. Also that they love to hunt at night, other insects. It’s so interesting that one of your followers asked about this. I am a little nervous of the yard being so full of spiders but so far they don’t bother me.

  5. Hello Catherine! I met you in the spring at Island View Beach with Dr. Blundon and my Environmental Technology class. I just stumbled upon your blog when I was looking up a spider I found (Araneus gemma!) I just wanted to say, thanks for taking the time to meet with my class. I had a really great time learning about spiders, and since that day my arachnaphobia has nearly disappeared. It was a huge turning point in my life (haha). Keep up the good work.

  6. Hi Catherine
    I caught this spider in my house yesterday.
    I always assume they are Florida wolf spider because it makes me feel better I guess. I made the mistake of only taking the underside of her as a picture and that makes it hard to convince me that it is a Florida wolf spider now. If I can email you the picture, do you think you would have any idea? Thank you for all the wonderful info you’re giving us.

  7. Pingback: Recluse or Not? Scientists Use Twitter to Tackle Spider Questions |

  8. Hey Catherine,

    I think I got bitten by a spider in the basement suite I just moved into in Vancouver- found a nasty bump on my collarbone when I woke up yesterday morning, and then found an even nastier looking spider in my room a few hours later. I was hoping you could ID the spider for me, and advise me as to whether or not I should be seeking medical attention…? I’d really appreciate it 🙂


  9. Hi Catherine,
    I found your (very cool) site this morning while trying to identify an arachnid I saw on my deck chair — I *think* it’s a spider, but I’m not sure. Definitely an arachnid, and seems MUCH to perfectly round (and pretty) for a tick. I haven’t been able to find anything that fits so I was hoping you might help me identify the little guy (or gal.)

    The facts: A pure white, small arachnid with a big, round-belly (eggs maybe?), and a very small head. Front 2 pairs of legs are long, the back 2 pair are very short. Even the legs are white, with perhaps a tinge of green (kinda see-through.)
    I am on the Olympic Peninsula in WA State, right across the Salish Sea from Vancouver Island, in a heavy forested setting at about 600 ft elevation.

    Any ideas? I did take a bunch of pictures if you would like to see one.
    Thanks for any insights you might offer and for your very cool blog! 🙂

  10. Hello!
    I found you in an article with KQED. I am amazed by all your work.
    I have a beautiful female black widow right outside my window. Up in the corner of the brick on the building. She seems quite large to me. Her web is amazing!
    There is a smaller brown spider in her web this afternoon. I am curious if it could be a male, who just didn’t send the right messsages to her! Or if she was hungry after the mating ritual! I do have photos of both.
    I am truly enjoying her.
    Thank you for what you do!
    Janet Hanen – Colorado Springs

  11. Hello there, I found a spider that I think is a wolf spider but also think there’s a slim chance it’s brown recluse, over at my moms house. To double check would you mind reviewing a photo? I Love spiders but want to make sure my mom is safe. Thanks!

  12. Hi Catherine,

    What a great blog you have got!
    Stumbled upon it just today. I’ll make sure to go through all the posts slowly.

    This is a great work of high importance.

    Keep writing. We need more people like you!

    Best Regards from India

  13. Hi dear Catherine from Sophie in Toronto . My best friend Catherine ( also! same name as you) was it seems bitten ..we think… most likely by a spider a few weeks ago . It left a very swollen red bite on side of her face . Eventually the swelling went down but now intermittently that same side of her face keeps swelling up with her eye almost closing.. Walk in clinic ( pandemic times) told her maybe she has a eye tumour and to get an MRI. I am convinced it is a reaction because of the initial spider bite. She spotted a spider at her home and then on film set in dark moist murky studio she has seen several and we keep seeing them.. yellowish..no web .. I think they are yellow sack spiders . We are in Ontario near Toronto . I do have a picture .. Can I communicate about this by email. I decided to post in case others have had the same issue . It is just the one side of her face that gets swollen and the side where she had the initial bite . Oh and do you thing “pest reject” device works ultrasonic sound to keep them away at least from her bedroom . Whenever I have seen one I always respect it and leave it alone to run around killing other insects . No interested in other words in calling pest control.

  14. Question. If I sent you a picture of a bite, based on the characteristics, do you think you would be able to ID the spider? Hospital can’t confirm…

    • I’m afraid not. Spider bites cannot be reliably diagnosed based on symptoms and the appearance of a bite site alone. You need to have seen (and ideally collected or photographed) the spider that caused the bite. In the absence of a culprit, an insect bite, or a bite from a tick or other blood-feeding animal is more likely.

  15. I used this page to id a trash line orbweaver on my deck, and made sure to credit spiderbytes.org in my Instagram and FB posts. Helpful and amazing page. Best of luck in your career!

  16. I love spiders so much! I have some at home and I let my tarantulas crawl all over me. I like the feeling of their little legs and hairs pinch and scratch at my skin, they are just so cute.

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