We have had ants this summer, the large black variety. Not too many, but occasionally one will be spotted making its was across the kitchen floor or even the counter. There have been so few compared to other years, that there really has been no need to do anything about them besides keep the counters and floors clean, the food covered and put away.
A few weeks ago while mopping the floor of the small downstairs half bathroom, I found a dead ant dangling just above the tile floor, in the corner between the bottom of the sink vanity and the wall. I almost missed it due to the optical illusion of the black and white tile. It was caught up in what looked like a small cobweb/dust bunny. I bent down to inspect the smallest of haphazard, gossamer webbing, which was not arranged in any particular pattern, but was more like a jumble of disorganized strings. As I leaned in, my movement startled and revealed the resident of this messy little web – a miniscule spider.
I have to say that I was impressed that the little being had set up camp so quickly and caught an ant easily two or three times its size. Because I am kind of a geek when it comes to this sort of thing, I decided to not clear out the web right away, but to mop around it and let it be. OK, maybe that’s a little weird, but the spider was so tiny that it was almost a speck. It was a ghost of a spider, and it really wasn’t hurting anything. And it caught a great big ant! It was Useful.
Not all insects who enter the home get this kind of invitation, but I have granted some clemency in the past. When hundreds of ladybugs used to arrive inside the window frames every autumn (in an old country residence of the past), I would let them live there and only vacuumed up the dead ones that fell on the sills. They didn’t seem to be hurting anything. As their numbers decreased I would wait to see if any of them would make it through the winter. By January there were usually only a few stragglers left. I admired their tenacity.
And then there was the The Daily Spider. The Daily Spider sat waiting for me in the bathtub just about every morning. It wasn’t a scary-looking spider at all, but I would rinse it down the drain each time anyway……. and the very next day it would be back again. Sometimes it would appear in the sink, but usually the tub. I wondered if it was the same spider or yet another one that looked just like it. It was remarkable that pretty much each day the spider would be sitting there before I took my shower. Here is an actual picture of The Daily Spider. You can see how small it is, which eliminated the fear-factor for me.
Here is a close-up of TDS. Some of you might say “Ewww”, but I think it’s rather interesting to look at.
Anyway, back to the story, I left this particular “Spidey” on the bathroom floor there in hopes that he would continue to trap ants and earn his keep, and so I could watch him. No doubt anybody who sat down on the toilet in that bathroom and happened to let their gaze fall towards that corner of the floor would notice the messy web and probably the dangling ant. The spider itself was so small it was easy to miss. Visitors to the bathroom probably thought I was just a lousy homemaker….but the rest of the bathroom was clean! Really! I alerted the S.O. to Spidey’s presence – he was only mildly impressed (“Why don’t you vacuum that thing up?”).
Spidey was there for about two weeks when I decided to try to snap a photo of him with my iPhone to show you. Unfortunately, you are going to have to use your imagination. I turned on the lights, got down on the floor and moved in close – and totally freaked the spider out, because it immediately scurried away and I have not seen it since. I continued to try and clean around the web for a few more days in the event he decided to return, but I must have caught the edge of it with the mop, because the ant is now gone too and there is nothing left but a messy little hint of fuzz. So that is that.
Watch out for those big black ants! The bug guy told me that those are usually carpenter ants and they damage wood by making tunnels through it. When it comes to wood damage they are second to termites. Might want to take a photo and have those ants identified. 🙂
I found some photos online. Do these look like the ants around your house?
I think they might be common black Garden ants. There are a number of anthills outside in the driveway that lead me to suspect they are coming from there. For a few moments I thought the spiders might take care of them!
We use a humane bug catcher for all indoor insects, but my backyard has so many exotic spiders that I actually bought a spider book and started identifying them for fun, the way I do with birds. Yes, large black ants are carpenter ants, as harmful as termites. Their nest is usually very difficult to find, could be way into surrounding wooded areas. We had them here.
I have a little book called “Spiders and Their Kin” which has been a handy reference but it’s not complete.. Can you ID The Daily Spider?
That’s the same one I use. Otherwise I have an insect book that includes spiders, but it is specifically for the Pacific Northwest. I cannot identify yours as there is not enough detail, sorry. I would suggest browsing books at your local Audubon, they have a great selection geared toward each geographic area.