Sunday, August 26, 2007

Nice Kitty...

Upon exiting the greenhouse last evening, I almost ended up with this critter dangling from my nose... it's a barn spider (Araneus cavaticus), the size of a peanut M & M. Barn spiders are orb weavers; that is, they spin concentrically circular webs, spinning a new web every evening. This isn't the best picture, as barn spiders are very wary, so it scuttled up to the greenhouse every time I'd stick my head around the corner, playing cat and mouse to get a picture. Speaking of cats, you can see the interesting marks on its abdomen, which cause it to be called the "cat-faced spider". I don't know what, if any, purpose the markings serve but it's interesting to speculate that the "face" might attract predator wasps to attack from the wrong side so that they become ensnared in the web, and the predator becomes prey. Maybe that's assigning too much deviousness to this little arachnid, but I've always thought spiders are more cunning than they would appear; in a fair fight I'd not bet against a spider.
As I've been removing multiflora rose from the woodland nature preserve, I've been spitting out a lot of spiders as I keep running into their webs; fortunately they're mostly smaller cousins of this barn spider. However I do have a suggestion, backed by experience: for your peace of mind if you happen to be working in the woods, and something lands on top of your cap with a 'plop'' that makes you think of a soft acorn, just shake off your cap and keep moving... don't, out of curiosity, stop and stick your cap under your nose to see what's on it.
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I took 3 wheelbarrow loads of sticks from our yard to the "ravine out back" a couple of days ago. My first trip through the trees forged a path through several unseen (but hardly unanticipated) spiderwebs. Upon my return, I asked my Husband to check out the top of my head! :-)
I feel the same way about reaching in to get that real ripe tomato that's in the very center of my 6' plants. I can feel the webs breaking, but I don't think about it and I don't look. yuk
Shady... I don't think I've seen this many spiders for many years.
Sissy... brave Lass!
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