Eratigena atrica, aka Common House Spider
Sorry, "Common" is a bit mild. How about "Scary House Spider", or "Giant House Spider", or "The Heart Attack"? Apparently the specimen pictured above is about average size for the "Air-uh-TIH-gen-uh-aa-TRICK-uh. This one looks like its leg span is about 2.5 inches. The largest can reach up to 4 inches!
My husband rescued this thirsty guy (gal?) from the kitchen sink. "C" used to be extremely arachnaphobic but for some reason, this year, he has decided these are good spiders, we should not kill them, we should rescue them and put them outdoors. OK, I get it, but they will just come back inside. According to Wikipedia:
"This species is native to Europe but was introduced to southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia in the early 20th century, and has since spread to mainland British Columbia as well as Washington and Oregon...Most specimens mature in the summer or fall and mate shortly thereafter. On warm nights in the summer and fall, the adult males wander in search of mates and may be caught scurrying across the floor when the lights are turned on. Females will typically construct more than one egg sac in their lifetime, and will suspend them in her web...These large spiders help prevent 'hobo spiders' from becoming established indoors. They out-compete and displace the hobo spider indoors and the males often kill male hobo spiders (without necessarily eating them). Hobo spiders are not an indoor spider to begin with, but Eratigena atrica is helping to keep them that way."
Since "hobo spiders" are poisonous, and we do have them in this area, the Common House Spider is a good one to have around even if they scare the beejeezus out of me! It is the startle factor.
Colette has a charming little story about her mother's pet house spider. From My Mother's House, a memoir of growing up in Burgundy, Colette tells us:
"Have you ever heard tell of Pelisson's spider that so passionately loved music? I for one am ready to believe it and also to add, as my slender contribution to the sum of human knowledge, the story of the spider that my mother kept--as my father expressed it--on her ceiling, in that year that ushered in my sixteenth spring. A handsome garden spider she was, her belly like a clove of garlic emblazoned with an ornate cross. In the daytime she slept, or hunted in the web that she had spun across the bedroom ceiling. But during the night, towards three o'clock in the morning, at the moment when her chronic insomnia caused my mother to relight the lamp and open her bedside book, the great spider would also wake, and after a careful survey would lower herself from the ceiling by a thread, directly above the little oil lamp upon which a bowl of chocolate simmered through the night. Slowly she would descend, swinging limply to and fro like a big bead, and grasping the edge of the cup with all her eight legs, she would bend over head foremost and drink to satiety. Then she would draw herself ceiling-wards again, heavy with creamy chocolate, her ascent punctuated by the pauses and meditations imposed by an overloaded stomach, and would resume her post in the centre of her silken rigging."
Oh my. To be so in tune with the creatures who inhabit one's world. I would like to have known Colette's mother, Sido. She counted the four cardinal points as either friends or enemies (the East wind was always an enemy) depending on circumstances. Her world was one of nurturing family, farmhouse, animals, and every square inch of garden on her little plot of land. She was one of that ancient race who still believe in..."The mists of a primitive religion--belief in fairies, in charms, in sorcerers--(that) everywhere lingers over French fields" (A. Maurois, A History of France).
Sigh, there will be nothing so romantic as a garden spider or common house spider lurking on my bedroom ceiling waiting for the moment when I invite her to share my bowl of hot chocolate. Rather, there will be a cry for "C" to move the poor thirsty thing outdoors immediately.