Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Clandestine Fishers Of The Air

Stepped out on the front porch last night to take in the air (damp, very damp), admire the Frank Lloyd Wright bugs (skinny fliers, geometrically patterned in orange and electric green with black lines between the colors like stained glass: they resemble nothing so much as a doll-house sized FLW wall sconce) and say Hi to Tam, reading on the sidewalk. When I returned to the porch, I noticed -- nearly ran into -- a very large, pale spider busily finishing a web at the front of it.

It was a big web; the anchoring strands defined a box about seven feet high by five wide and the most closely-woven portion had a diameter of more than a yard. The spider was working in toward the center with about a two-foot circle left to go, busy as can be.

This morning, there was no sign of net or the weaver. I mentioned this to Tam -- I'm used to writing* spiders, who will pick a spot and stay as long as pickings are good, raising a pure-dee ruckus if you brush against their handiwork-- and she said, "Yes, these rarely keep a web up." (No fan of spiders, she nevertheless appreciates having volunteer bugcatchers).

Call me Ellie Mae, but I kinda like the idea of a nearly thumb-sized critter that hangs out its nets every evening, seines for dinner and then packs up before the dawn, leaving not a trace. It was a little jarring to encounter the hunter (or is it a trapper?) at close range, unexpectedly, but given such careful habits, I'll not complain.
* Accents: the first time Tam mentioned 'em, asking if we have them in Yankeeland -- we more often called the black and yellow beauties "banana spiders" when I was young -- I heard "riding spiders." It's a disconcerting image. I don't want to visit where they have riding spiders, no matter how well-trained. No, siree. You just keep those. Please.


JohnMXL said...

We called the black and yellow spiders you talk about "garden spiders" or "bumblebee spiders" - the most notable trait of their webs is a band of heavy webbing in the center of the web. If you disturb them they bounce the web for several seconds.

They are related to the other spider you talk about - they are 'Orb Weavers' because of the style of web. During the day, if you look closely around the vicinity of where the web was found, you should find the spider hiding and resting, waiting for evening to rebuild its web.

LeeAnn said...

I came home yesterday to see a very weird looking wasp buzzing around my porch, and as I watched him to make sure he didn't think I was yummy, he dropped the burden I hadn't seen- he'd been carrying a spider. Dead as a doornail spider. Particularly after I squished his spidey corpse, because I don't believe in giving succor to the enemy, and wasps are my sworn enemies.

ZerCool said...

I have an understanding with spiders at the Z house: If they remain out of reach or off flat surfaces, they can live. Upper corners of rooms are fine; walls and ceilings are not. Anywhere outside is fine until they spin a web where I intend to walk.

I appreciate the efforts but have a rather deep-seated and utterly illogical phobia of them.

LauraB said...

Husband says you cannot let the writin' spiders see your teeth or they will write your name in their web and you will DIE. Cracks me up. Damn Appalachian/Cherokee mythology.

Tam said...

I have reached a modus vivendi with spiders.

Now there are only two kinds of spider I kill: Those that are on me, and those that are trying to get on me. (Building a web in my traffic pattern qualifies for the latter offense.)

All the other little arachnids may go on about serving as nature's mosquito netting.

(WV: "fignitur". A desk in a math lab.)

LabRat said...

I have the same rules as Tam, which I was forced to adopt if I wanted to live with Stingray, who likes spiders and even regrets squashing black widows. I do have to admit that letting the wolf spiders, house spiders, and daddy longlegs have free reign does tend to lead to a significant reduction in widows needing squashing, though.

He still feels my veto of tarantula-keeping is unfair. What's wrong with a nice snake if he wants something terrarium-based to carry around? There's an awful cutie of a young bull snake that keeps coming around...

Eck! said...

I'm not fond of spiders but if they stay away from me I'll leave them be.

Now Dragonflys are severely cool and
I will let them land on me and all.
Usually I have one use me as a perch
on the lookout for bugs they call dinner when I'm wandering the yard.


jbrock said...

I don't want to visit where they have riding spiders, no matter how well-trained.

That would be the Underdark. And no, you really don't want to visit there.

Web-builders are more like trappers. Jumping spiders and wolf spiders are the real hunters.

Tarantulas? Eh ... those aren't spiders. Those are eight-legged hamsters. With fangs.

Montie said...

I have to say that I have come to the same agreement as Tam.

I walked out on my front porch a few days ago and spotted a similarly large orb weaver web just off the porch but close enough to reap the benefits of the lure of the porch light for various flying insects. I left it alone and found that the web was gone the next morning but it reappeared that night. As long as she keeps cleaning up behind herself I plan to let her net bugs to her full satisfaction.

However, an identical orb weaver strung a web across the path to my storage building which I ran into face first in the dark, causing me to exact swift vengeance for her indiscretion.