Dashboard Nature: Car Spider

Today’s Dashboard Nature: the spider who lives in my car.

Funnel spider or Wolf spider?  Either way, it dashes in and out of the windshield gasket as I drive. 

“HELLO!” “GOODBYE!” “HELLO!” “GOODBYE!” etc, super-fast.
All the way to school, every day this week.

Today, it stood perfectly still through a red light at Music Row, which led me to imagine I had a chance to catch it. I pulled the car over, but my Spider Tupperware lives in the kitchen, not my car, and all I had on hand was yesterday’s teabag. Luckily, the bag was a nice, roomy pyramid which, I’ve just learned, can be pressed into a dome the perfect size to trap but not squish a car spider. 

But, if it’s a Wolf spider, all 8 eyes saw me coming, and if it’s a Funnel spider, all 8 eyes (in a different arrangement) saw me coming;
so the spider said “GOODBYE!” before my teabag got halfway there.

There were no more HELLOS! all the way home.

What I really need is a pooter, which is the legit name for a spider-catching tool easily made from a pill bottle and some tubing. Pooters can suck spiders out of windshield gaskets, no problem, and then release them into proper spider habitat.

But then I thought, maybe my car *is* proper spider habitat?
This is not my friend’s car, which gets scoured inside and out at least once a month, and never hauls anything but Reusable grocery bags that sit in fancy bins from The Container Store. 

No, this is *my* car, which I’ve only vacuumed twice in 16 years (see note below). My car hauls branches, trees, plants, bags of other people’s leaves, and other wonders likely loaded with tiny creatures, all of whom might stay in the car and become food for a spider.

But, then I thought, does my spider need more than food?
What about friends?
Without spider friends, how will it achieve the Prime Directive to Make More Spiders?

So I’ve decided that if the spider says “HELLO!” next week, I’ll find the pooter.
Then I can be the one to say “GOODBYE!”
as Spidey goes from gasket to ground. 

All of this is to say, as always:

Nature is everywhere!

But sometimes it doesn’t need to be in my car. 


I haven’t seen a funnel web in the car, and funnel spiders generally hang out in their funnels and wait for prey to come to them. Wolf spiders don’t wait for prey: they go out and HUNT.
But I need a better pic of the top of the spider to be sure who shares my ride. Gee, it could even be a baby Fishing Spider? Look at those pretty leg bands.

Spider Public Relations: Spiders are a crucial component of our foodwebs, and one of “little things that run the world.”

Wolf vs Funnel Spider identification: I love the BugLady, and here is her article about this very thing.

Spider eye arrangement charts: for the real deal in color macro, go to BugGuide. For a b/w illustrated version, see this gentler, hand-drawn version.

The only thing, so far, that makes vacuuming the car worthwhile: seed ticks. These are the newly-hatched tick babies who swarm by the hundreds up every available vertical surface, including a hiker’s legs, which then enter a hiker’s car.

Teabags: my tea bag of choice is PG Tips, from England (“pyramid bags: more room to move”)


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Joanna Brichetto is a naturalist and writer in Nashville, the hackberry-tree capital of the world.
She writes about everyday marvels amid everyday habitat loss at SidewalkNature.com and on Instagram (@Jo_Brichetto); and her essays have appeared in Creative NonfictionBrevity, Fourth Genre, Hippocampus, The Hopper, Flyway, The Common, City Creatures, The Fourth River and other journals. An almanac of urban nature encounters is forthcoming.

One thought on “Dashboard Nature: Car Spider

  1. Joanna! I think Funnel Web spiders, the deadly kind only live in Australia. I am sure there are some other species, but those in Australia are extremely aggressive and deadly. Check out some vids on YouTube or documentaries on deadly animals of that continent. During mating season thousands of them descend on Sydney and people have to call pest control folks to remove them. A bite can kill a person in like 45 to 90 minutes, honest to gosh. One guy they interviewed said if you don’t live within a certain number of miles from a health care facility, kiss your loved ones bye bye.

    Now I see you are in Nashville….yep we have a funnel web spider the NA variety with a huge web in the corner of our gutter. Huge. I leave all spiders alone. Have had some BIG wolf spiders in the basement. Unfortunately, also have a number of Black Widows and Brown Recluses that love hidden corners in the basement under my studio work tables and cupboards. My wife and I have been bitten by what must have been little ones and did not get the horrible necrotic wound many get.

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