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Thread: Latrodectus geometricus and the St.Louis Zoo!

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Latrodectus geometricus and the St.Louis Zoo!

    This past friday, my girlfriend; Staci and I decided to make a day out of visiting the St.Louis Zoo for 1st time this year and being as I am was prepetually excited to visit the Monsanto Insectarium portion of the zoo, right? Duh...! So naturally we walked the whole exhibit veiwing my favorite sights and bugs displayed in the lil museum and conversing/informing with a curious Staci about my favorites (she has never been introduced to this "odd" part of keeping and studying herps and arachnids) when we come across the Latrodectus geometricus, A.urticans and Acanthoscurria geniculata dislpays and cannot find ms. geometricus for the life of me "well **** thats a bummer" I thought to myself and continued talking about the other three species of arachnids with Staci. We eventually
    made our way to the exit of the building
    where you are provided with the choice
    of just plainly exiting the building into the rest of the zoo or be more adventurous and enter the butterfly house exhibit that leads you right back out to the said "plain" exit, which of
    course we decided to be of the adventurous type! Immediatly upon
    entering you have to the right of you an about 1 1/2 foot tall retaining wall made of cinder blocks that houses the butterfly houses section of garden, decorated with a beautiful array of flowering plants and trees and a series of small spot lights meticuously place through out the indoor garden. With my attention fixed on a couple of stunning orange tiger stiped and spotted butterflies, Staci brings my attention to another little critter with an excited outburst "babe look at that gross looking spider!" Turning to investigate her newfound "gross spider" I discover a smallish brown marbilized spider tucked neatly with in the lip of one of the spot lights. Leanint in for closer inspection reveals to me what first glance appears to be just a rather larger example of a common house or cob web spider, " it looks to like a brown widow dear" I said. But the thought of such a venomous spider with in arms reach of the prying fingers of small children was deterring me from identifying it as such and thus carrying on about my business after informing the young man who tends to the garden and vistors questions about the spider and what my thoughts are concerning it. The unknowledgable young man assures me that after his shift is over that he will notify staff about my concern of the spider and away I went for a pit stop at the restrooms for expecting girlfriend. On the way I aslo stopped another gentleman who looked like someone of importance to the zoo and informed him about the gorgeous marble-ized spider and my concern for the safty of it and children that could get bitten. He looked at me as though I was an idiot and said he to would notify staff at the insectarium once he had finished the task he was about to do. A few moments later while Staci is in the restroom relieving her pregnancy induced over-active bladder the thought of the spider that I was reluctant to positively I.D. as Latrodectus geometricus instead of some type of Steatoda sp was getting to me in the sense that no one seemed concered at all except for me and Staci. with her in the restroom I rushed to the nearest concession stand and asked for a cup, snagged a small twig from a nearby shrub a impatiently wait for Staci's gravid exit from latrene. Upon her exit I rushed her back the the insectarium through all the displays except the the brown widow enclosure and confirmed my knowing that not one specimen was in this 1'x1'x1' clear acrylic enclosure. We raced back out the butterfly house and corralled the spider into the empty cup. Now I could have just as easily either A: left it alone in hopes of staff actually investigating the report. B: captured the spider and I would have had a nice lil addition to already skimp colletion. Or C: as I ended up doing catching the spider andwith the help of my wonderful sidekick and beautiful girlfriend, went to the demonstration window inside the insectarium and knock on the glass and waved until I captured something else; a staff members attention, a staff member that mattered a scientist or at the very least a keeper. We showed her the spider, adressed my concern and notice of an empty brown widow enclosoure. She brought out a member of staff that im assuming is either an entomologist or arachnologist and he confirmed it. This gorgeous little spider was in fact with out a doubt Latrodectus geometricus! But he also tried to insist that these particular venomous vixens are quite common inside the butterfly house due to them recieving their plants and flowers be shipped up here to missouri from florida. Now im not exactly stating that my capture of this spider is the result of it escaping its confinement,nor am I dismissing that theory, as many of you know widows and all other therididea spiders produce mass amounts of offspring that are extremely difficult to contain due to their considerably small statuer, so there is another theory, and yes they could have come up from florida with shipments of plants. I personally just can see them being as common as he says from just a few if not only 1 or 2 plant/flower shipments recieved a year. Not to mention if you in fact know that a spider that dangerous to a small child or the elderly/sick resides within close proximity of miniature fingers and hands why would not address the issue with like say"try to decline or terminate that particular venomous resident" or even just simply post a sign stating brown widow spiders present in this area please exercice caution when placing hands in hard to see areas. Somthing!

  2. #2
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    Re: Latrodectus geometricus and the St.Louis Zoo!

    Maybe the zoo thinks that the chances of someone sticking a finger into a hiding spot of the widow, and actually provoking it to bite is slim to none? I guess all it would take is for someone to actually get bit, then they'd do something.

  3. #3
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    Re: Latrodectus geometricus and the St.Louis Zoo!

    Yea I suppose, but it dont always take the laboring task of provoking it to bite, where this particular spiders was at would have been all to easy for child to accidentally smush her there for "provoking" a bite. However given a tragic hypothetical event of a bite to anyone child or adult sick or elderly if this were to happen then said victim could end becoming extremely sick (Latrodectism) or even worse dead from either venom of the bite itself or worse a wrong diagnoses based on symptoms that are equally shared with Latrodectism.

  4. #4
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    Re: Latrodectus geometricus and the St.Louis Zoo!

    So I went to the zoo again mainly just to check out the butterfly house and caught another L.geometricus. She had two egg sacks but she is very well at home with me now!

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