It's grape harvesting time in the Central Valley - actually, it's just coming to an end. It's a couple of weeks behind schedule because of the cooler and wetter spring but the bugs have eventually caught up with the season. Last week while going through several bunches of grapes, a colleague of mine stumbled onto this attractive relative of the black widow spider - the brown widow, Latrodectus geometricus.
This spider is not known for its nasty bight, although it can and, if provoked, will. What is striking is the pretty pattern on its back. It is actually not originally from the US. Having come from Africa some time ago, it seems to prefer the subtropical regions of the US - particularly Southern California. One message from all of this: maybe wear gloves if your in the vineyard.