Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Along Came a Spider

Arachnophobes may want to skip today's blog post.

Since our house is surrounded by trees,
we notice a lot of spider webs outside around the lights and windows.
Thankfully, most spiders around here are content to remain out of doors
and only occasionally come in the house looking for a meal.

For some time now, there has been a spidery enterprise unfolding outside
on a couple of our windows.
I usually go around with a mop and clean them all off,
but these have spun their webs on a window
that provides a perfect observation place,
 and I confess my curiosity has compelled me to leave them alone.
Here's one with a fly it caught for a snack:

I figured spiders must be good for something besides frightening or disgusting people,
and it turns out they are.  According to an aptly titled  article "All About Spiders"
by Dr. Linda S. Rayor,
an assistant professor of entomology at Cornell University,
(published on a Colorado State University web site), 
spiders are the good guys in the garden.

The spiders we have on the windows are apparently
called cobweb weavers. Trust me, they live up to their names.
And even though they may be worthy contributors to the balance of nature,
they are messy housemates, leaving their cobwebs filled with spent carcasses,
countless pine needles, and siftings of dirty tree debris. 
This morning I had an interesting encounter
with another type of spider we see here often.
This spider had spun a gossamer web
 from the top of our patio umbrella to the top of the table:

Based on Dr. Rayor's article and an accompanying photo,
I'm guessing this gentle spider is called an orb web weaver.
The curious thing was that every time I raised the camera to take its picture,
it seemed to interpret the camera as a threat and would move away.
Not ten minutes later I went outside and the spider
and its entire web had completely disappeared.
Dr. Rayor says that these webs are re-built daily,
so that probably explains why said spider packed it in and went home.

She also points out an interesting feature of these orb web weavers:
 if they are building a web during the day,
they will incorporate white decorations in it
to prevent birds from flying through.
Kind of like putting stickers on  glass patio doors.
Tomorrow, Patience Muffet and her infamous spider.

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