Will be using your advice this fall cheersOk, first of all... you are ONLY going to find variolus in Michigan. The plywood idea will NOT work for variolus, nor will looking in/around your house most likely. Variolus are different than mactans and hesperus- unless you know exactly where to find them, it can be tough. For a northern widow, you need to go to the woods. I know it sounds weird, but don't waste your time looking under rocks, boards, or other structures for them. Go to a patch of woods in the Fall where ther is a lot of leaf litter and a lot of dappled sunlight getting through to the ground. Walk around DURING THE DAYTIME and look for webs that have pulled up leaf litter suspended near other undergrowth. You need practice at this to recognize a true variolus web as opposed to an Agelenidae web or the like. Variolus will even usually have a funnel retreat like other spiders that will go down into the leaf litter, but if you see enough of them, you will be able to tell from 20' away whether it is a widow web or not. This will work if you try it long enough... and once you find one, you will start to find many. They aren't going to everywhere like widows west of you. Good luck!
It's reasonable they were variolus, but are you sure they weren't L. mactans?ok well when i lived in florida one of my friends had a big underground pool. ok you know the filter thing where everything gets swept under? and theres like that little man hole type deal covering we used to lift it up and see flashes of black maybe check there?
That's how I found mine. I saw a messy web during the day and nudged it with a stick. It was very tough, so I marked it and checked it later that night. Sure enough, it was a widow.web strength is also a HUGE indicator. their webs are very strong, unmistakable. that would be the easiest way to tell webs apart from other spiders.