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Author Topic: What kind of spider has six legs?
Mr. Billion
The First USA Noel


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I just found a spider crawling up the wall in my hallway. What struck me is that the spider apparently has six legs.

I sure didn't pull them out, and I don't see how it could have lost them otherwise (though I guess it's possible), so I don't know what kind of spider this is. It looks a lot like other spiders I've seen around the house in the past, but I don't remember ever noticing them having six legs.

The spider is brown, with skinny dark legs. Its abdomen is a darker brown than its body. The spider appears to be hairless.

The only other person I showed the spider to seems to think that what I think are its mandibles are the fourth pair of legs. I guess this is possible. Like this spider, the spider I found has two appendages in front of its mouth. But spiders are supposed to have those two appendages, and they don't count as legs. It really looks like a six-legged spider.

Here are the pictures:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v670/grumgrum/SpiderCrawl.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v670/grumgrum/SpiderSix.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v670/grumgrum/SpiderComparison.jpg

Still, I guess the best explanation probably is that the small mandible-like things really are small ineffectual legs, and the actual mandibles are small enough that they're hard to see (I haven't gotten my face too close to it, and I can't find the magnifying glass).

So, what kind of spider is this? Comments?

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Mr. Billion
The First USA Noel


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Somebody has just suggested that this is an insect evolved to look like a spider to ward off predators. This is possible, but I have never heard of such creatures existing around here. Interesting possibility, though.

What do you all think?

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"For the U.S. to get involved militarily in determining the outcome of the struggle over who's going to govern Iraq strikes me as a classic definition of a quagmire." ~Dick Cheney.

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martin-at-work
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Huntsman with two legs missing. Seriously. We get Huntsman spiders around our place all the time, and I have seen one down to 5 legs. I thought I was doing him a favour putting him outside, but he didn't move from where I put him and he curled up and died. Maybe I should have done more, but you just never know at the time...
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Troberg
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quote:
Somebody has just suggested that this is an insect evolved to look like a spider to ward off predators. This is possible, but I have never heard of such creatures existing around here.
They exist, I see them all the time in my garden, but they are not the same variant as the one in the photo.

I think it looks a bit to perfect to be missing legs, so I'd guess that it's an insect.

I could also be a siamese twin of a miniature martian war machine from the meteorite hit in Norway recently. Does it have any death rays?

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/Troberg

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Mr. Billion
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Troberg:
I could also be a siamese twin of a miniature martian war machine from the meteorite hit in Norway recently.

You could?

Oh no!

[Razz] [fish]

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Mr. Billion
The First USA Noel


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Also: He didn't move awkwardly like you'd expect a spider with two missing legs to move, so I don't think it's missing legs. I don't see anywhere on the spider that looks like an injury. If it did lose two legs, it would have had to have been a very, very clean cut.

I'm taking him to the university I go to to see if I can find an entomologist.

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Brad from Georgia
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Fox with mange.

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Doug4.7
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I can't believe you put your hand that close to a spider! [Eek!]

Yes, I know all about arachnophobia.

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Hypno Toad
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quote:
Originally posted by Brad from Georgia:
Fox with mange.

[lol] LOL

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Mr. Billion
The First USA Noel


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Well, the person at the desk wasn't an entomologist, but her guess was that it's a brown recluse that somehow lost two legs. Makes sense, but still I don't see any sign of injury. She says the mouth appendages are definitely just mandibles. Martin-at-work says his seven-legged spider curled up and died from one missing leg, but this spider seemed fine the following day from possibly two missing legs. I guess it could be that Martin's spider had been missing a leg longer, or was just more susceptible to injury.

The person at the desk stuck the spider in the freezer and said she'd wait to see what Dr. Distler (resident entomologist) says when he gets back.

I guess I probably have a brown recluse population in this house. There is a small design on its back, but it didn't look to me like the famed violin shape. We'll just have to see what Dr. Distler says when he sees it.

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"For the U.S. to get involved militarily in determining the outcome of the struggle over who's going to govern Iraq strikes me as a classic definition of a quagmire." ~Dick Cheney.

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frogpond
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I'm not particularly scared of spiders but brown recluses do give me the creeps - they make nasty holes in your flesh!

I've seen spider with missing legs before, though they looked obviously lopsided. They seemed to get along just fine without the legs.

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FireSpook
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Billion:
Also: He didn't move awkwardly like you'd expect a spider with two missing legs to move, so I don't think it's missing legs. I don't see anywhere on the spider that looks like an injury. If it did lose two legs, it would have had to have been a very, very clean cut.

I'm taking him to the university I go to to see if I can find an entomologist.

Do you still have him? could you post more images? Prehaps still close up shots? where he isn't moving?

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Mr. Billion
The First USA Noel


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Well, if I could get to him I could probably get a picture of him not moving since he's frozen to death in the university freezer by now. Apparently they preserve better that way than if you just let them die naturally and dry out.

Sorry for the poor image quality; I probably should have taken more pictures of him after I caught him.

If there turns out to be something more to it than just a brown recluse that's lost a couple legs, I'll get more pictures and post them. The woman in the biology department said it might be up to a week before Dr. Distler got back. [Frown]

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"For the U.S. to get involved militarily in determining the outcome of the struggle over who's going to govern Iraq strikes me as a classic definition of a quagmire." ~Dick Cheney.

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Joostik
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I guess that, strictly in the interest of science, someone should now catch a spider and pull off two legs.
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Captain Zombie
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Isn't it possible that it's a one-off mutation, or birth defect?
I mean, there are humans born with multiple, or lacking appendages all the time, is it within the realm of possibility that a spider (or other arachnid) could be born with fewer legs?
no snark, I'm really curious.

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Cure the Blues
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quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Billion:
Somebody has just suggested that this is an insect evolved to look like a spider to ward off predators. This is possible, but I have never heard of such creatures existing around here. Interesting possibility, though.

That was my first guess, although the body does look almost too perfectly spider-like. If it's an insect (ant??) mimicking a spider, it's the best one I've ever seen. I've been looking over the photos on What's that Bug? and BugGuide, and haven't found anything yet. Barring any positive IDs, the spider-with-chomped-legs scenario is perhaps the most reasonable assumption.

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mommyrex
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quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Billion:
Well, the person at the desk wasn't an entomologist, but her guess was that it's a brown recluse that somehow lost two legs.
...
I guess I probably have a brown recluse population in this house.

Quite possible:
quote:
In Kansas, the brown recluse is an extremely common house spider.
Found this article last month when we realized we live with recluses: http://dermatology.cdlib.org/DOJvol5num2/special/recluse.html

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Mr. Billion
The First USA Noel


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(I'd typed this out earlier and thought I'd already posted it, but I must have accidentally closed it without realizing.)

quote:
Originally posted by Joostik:
I guess that, strictly in the interest of science, someone should now catch a spider and pull off two legs.

Ha! Yes, I've actually seriously considered doing that. But that might be a little too weird, even for me.

quote:
Originally posted by Captain Zombie:
Isn't it possible that it's a one-off mutation, or birth defect?
I mean, there are humans born with multiple, or lacking appendages all the time, is it within the realm of possibility that a spider (or other arachnid) could be born with fewer legs?
no snark, I'm really curious.

I didn't perceive any snark. You're right, it could be. I think that's the second-most-likely possibility.

quote:
Originally posted by Cure the Blues:
Barring any positive IDs, the spider-with-chomped-legs scenario is perhaps the most reasonable assumption.

Yes, that's most likely. The least outlandish explanation would be that it manually lost two legs and the reason I couldn't see evidence of lost legs is that I didn't check with a magnifying glass. I guess. But come on, that'd be boring. I'm still holding out for the mutant spider possibility.

If I find another, I'll bombard it with radiation and let it bite me to see what kind of super powers I get.

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Spamamander in a pear tree
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quote:
Originally posted by Doug4.7:
I can't believe you put your hand that close to a spider! [Eek!]

Yes, I know all about arachnophobia.

I have to agree. I don't care how many people give me the lecture about how the planet would be over-run by insects without the assistance of "our arachnid friends", spiders are the instruments of evil and much stay far far far away from me. Period.

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dlloyd
I Saw Three Shipments


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Look at it's "face". If there are six eyes arranged in pairs with a "violin pattern" it's a brown recluse.

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noysey
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This will probably irritate all of you, but I saw the topic in 'today's active topics' and couldn't resist:

All spiders have six legs, just like every month has 28 days. [Big Grin] [Big Grin]

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Mistwalker
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This is a spider that's lost two legs. Spiders are able to adapt their movements to deal with the loss of legs, and move with no visible problems with as few as four legs.

Loss of a leg occurs at the joint against the body, as the spider releases the leg if a predator gets ahold of it, and so there is no "stump" or mangled end of the leg left.

Loss of a leg, or two legs, or more, is fairly common in the spider world due to predation and mishaps.

The spider you have isn't a brown recluse, as they are purely terrestrial spiders, and couldn't climb your walls. I would expect it's a huntsman spider of some sort, also called a giant crab spider. To be more specific I would need to know your location.

It is, however, 100% a spider, even if 100% of the spider is no longer present. If it were still young (and not in a freezer), it would have grown back the missing legs with successive molts.

Hope that helps.

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Ovalescent
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Mr. Billion, I throw my hat into the "injured recluse" ring as well, with an anecdote alongside!

The day before yesterday I caught a brown recluse at work with (I forget what they're called) one of those things that look kind of like scissors, but are actually sort of locking tweezers. I had him by the leg and was showing him to my coworkers to get a positive ID. He flailed around, then spread out and stood still (playing dead?) for a while, but then he gathered up his seven other legs and started pushing against the one that was trapped! When I saw what he was trying to do I stuck him in the toilet, gave the tweezers a rough jerk (broke the leg off right next to the body, even though I had it near the middle) and flushed it, twice.

They're pretty territorial spiders, so he could have lost his legs fighting with other spiders. He looks a lot like a brown recluse to me because of that "suspended" abdomen - their butts jut out like a balloon on a sideways string, whereas most other spider's abdomens are firmly attached to their middles. It's an easy way to tell, if you don't feel like getting close enough to look for the "fiddle."

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martin-at-work
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Just last night I found a 7-legged huntsman in our house. Yes I took a pic, but of course I didn't bring it in.
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mgbdriver
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What kind of spider has six legs?

One that owes the Mafia some money.

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Mistwalker
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Martin: Yeah. Spiders regularly lose legs. Sometimes predators get them, various mishaps, or sometimes they lose them during molting. Molting is rough on spiders, and it's not unusual for spiders to lose legs, palps, chelicerae, or even sometimes die during molts.

I've personally had tarantulas lose legs during molts, (which they grow back later), and lost one tarantula to a bad molt.

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Cure the Blues
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I found two missing-leg spiders on Flickr. One with 7 legs and this spitting spider which is missing the anterior 2 right legs. Clean leg breaks at the body in both cases.

I also wanted to add that dlloyd's six-eyes ID is by far the best way to separate recluses from several look-alike species. It's better than the violin markings since several other spiders can have fiddle-like shapes. If the spider has 6 eyes, you know the spider is in the Sicariidae or Six-Eyed Spider family. This greatly reduces the chances of a misfired ID as there are only a couple 6-eyed spider species that resemble the recluse. For example, spitting spiders are in the Sicariidae, but aren't easily confused with a recluse because their overall body coloration and humped profile immediately flag them as non-recluses.

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Mr. Billion
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What kind of spider has five legs?

A six-legged spider that lost one leg.

I went back to the biology department and asked about the spider again. Distler apparently either never got the message, or never replied to it. Oh well.

I did get to look at the spider under a microscope, which was pretty cool. I got some more pictures through the microscope. While adjusting his legs, one of them came off. D'oh!

Come to think of it, I should have made note of which leg came off. (I took all my pictures before the leg came off.)

I'm convinced that the other two legs are missing because of a deformity, not because of injury. There's a hairy bump on his right side that I think would have been his front right leg. The same place on the left side is a normal leg. Between the first front left and second front left legs is what might be another hairy bump where the real second left leg would have gone.

I'm certain it's a brown recluse. I found another one (eight legs this time) in the bathtub a week or two ago.

Here's what the (formerly six-legged, now five-legged) little guy looks like under a microscope:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v670/grumgrum/SpiderCloseTopBlurry.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v670/grumgrum/SpiderCloseTop.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v670/grumgrum/SpiderUnderbellyClose.jpg

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Mr. Billion
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Mistwalker:
If it were still young (and not in a freezer), it would have grown back the missing legs with successive molts.

Hmm. I guess it might actually be that it lost its legs a long time ago and had partially regrown them, which would account for the hairy stumps.

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"For the U.S. to get involved militarily in determining the outcome of the struggle over who's going to govern Iraq strikes me as a classic definition of a quagmire." ~Dick Cheney.

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Mistwalker
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Yeah, that is a brown recluse, definitely. Turns out walls are rough enough for them to crawl on. Found one on a wall recently myself. Bathtubs and glass they can't climb on, though.

They're actually fairly harmless, though. They're in nearly every house in this state, and there are only a couple of confirmed bites a year. Though everyone knows someone who knows someone who they're sure was bitten.

They're not agressive, and mostly hide out of sight. You can try killing them, but likely you'll never get rid of them all.

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