Friday, August 01, 2008

Welcome to my parlor...

I've picked up some new readers lately, thanks to folks like Lu'. And it occurs to me that these newcomers may not be aware of my Spider Fetish.

I just love spiders. I love the way they silently descend on their gossamer threads to appear right beside you in the garden as if to say, "Hi! I'm an inch from your nose!" I love their work ethic -  how they construct their webs anew each day, and finish just in time for the morning dew to glint off the strands. I love the way they hunt, whether it's the ambush method of the ground-dwelling wolf-spider or the savage determination of the orb-weaver as it throws strands of silk over prey twice its size before moving in to deliver the fatal bite.

If any of this this creeps you out then you are free to leave now, brushing imaginary creepy crawlies from your arms as you go. In fact, its advisable. For arachnophobes, this post is only going to get worse for you. Cross my heart.

At the top of the page is a picture of Minerva, and of all the garden spiders we have this year - and they are bountiful - she is the smartest because she knows the top rule of Spider Real Estate: Location, location, location. (You'll want to click on the pictures to fully appreciate the detail of how the web is constructed.)

A few weeks ago, when she was just a half-inch across, she built her web in the corner of the stall we've fashioned into a milking parlor. Barns are great places for webs, and this particular stall is a favorite destination of flies. Minerva's presence keeps them down considerably, which is good for me. I hate flies.

Yes, garden spiders are cool. But they aren't as cool as Golden Silk Spiders. In the late summer of 2006, I began chronicling  in painstaking detail the life of Octavia, a golden silk spider that I brought home from the local arboretum. 

Octavia was a warrior - beautiful, brutal and fearless. She wove massive golden webs, tackled prey three or four times her size and even cannibalized another golden silk spider that made the mistake of wandering into her web.

I fell head over heels in love with her.

I probably shot over a thousand photos of that spider. In October of that year when I found her shrunken, lifeless body I cried like a baby. Sad but true. I try to be practical about nature and knew she wouldn't live through the fall, but I really had grown terribly fond of her. 

We made the mistake of leaving her egg sac in the greenhouse, where it hatched early before the last frost. The babies proceeded to sneak out and did not survive. So the following year we brought home more golden silk spiders. Some laid egg sacs but we've found no babies here. Well, not yet, anyway although I suspect they may be in the tall pines. 

But we keep trying. Larry brought me home a few golden silk spiders last week. None are as big or impressive as Octavia, but I have high hopes for a particularly industrious one that had the foresight to set up her web near the dog kennel. 

This weekend I hope to return to the arboretum to see if I can find some larger golden silk spiders, and the spindly little males which always emerge later in the season. I don't imagine I'll find anything to rival Octavia, but who knows. I may get lucky. If I do, I'll let you know. And in lurid detail. Cross my heart.

Cooler weather always means death to the spiders, which makes me sad. I've often fantasized of finding some way to prolong their life, but after seeing this video I was reminded of the dangers of experimenting with nature. So if you're not yet sick of spiders, do watch this video. It's highly educational. ;-)


Micky-T said...

Holy Crack Head Spider Batman....did you see that video?

That was so funny...ROTFLMAO

I must admit that spiders don't thrill me a lot. Had bazillions here at this house as I started restorations. Not so now.
I gave "my" spiders NO MERCY.

I'll be happy to get to know "your" spiders. I bet there is a lot for me to learn.

Morgan said...

Just be careful, Micky-T. No one wants to become the crack spider's bitch.

Lu' said...

My my you have been busy. I laughed out loud at your quote for the day; fandamntastic, loved it. I hate friggin spiders. I know they have a purpose but I don't dig them one bit. I can however appreciate the beauty of a spider in the web. So I guess I dig them a little. Didn't watch the vid yet, I save that for home time. I'm sneaky Pete in the office. Like the new digs ala blog layout.

Micky-T said...

Hey Morgan, in your blogroll you have me linked as The Flagman...

Malihini is the name of our boat, which sits at the top of our blog.

It's my brother who is the flagman.
Just to let you know.

Morgan said...

Micky, duly noted and corrected. Thanks for the catch. :-)

thimscool said...

I like the changes, round here.

Anthropic Tautology will never be a blog. Maybe a book later in life, but right now I focus on the bidness.

Funny vid.

Morgan said...

Thank you, Luke.
And although you remain stalwart in your bloglessness I shall keep you linked nonetheless. As a form of silent protest. And because I could not bear to link to one of my favorite people.

Andrea said...

I'll say again that you - and your blog - are looking mighty fine.

And, I was content to stay a country mile from any and all spiders until that garden spider I documented on that old blog of mine....she was a beauty, as is yours. I would still prefer not to touch the little critters, but I give them their due. They rock pretty hard. But you already knew that.

Dice Mardell said...

Hi Morgan,

I hate spiders but relish ANY opportunity to LAUGH - which you just provided me so thank you.

The very next spider I see, just before I squish it or carefully capture it and set it free outside (sometimes I'll do that; it depends on my mood) I'll be thinking about my third option of "popping a cap in it's ass", have a good laugh and then execute one of my first two options.

Lu' said...

Morgan, ha ha ha ha you are So of the same mind as me. Hey regardless of what anyone thinks, that is not a bad thing. RIGHT ON!

Christopher said...

Hi Morgan,
I thought I was the only person loony enough to have a spider fetish. If I remember correctly the garden spider has the lovely scientific name of Aranea diademata. Every year around my house I look out for the new crop of barn spiders--the Aranea cavatica E.B. White used for Charlotte.
And then there's those funny Salticidae with their iridescent bodies, and, of course, my absolute favorite, Lycosa. Yeah, I love them wolf spiders.

Morgan said...

Hi Christopher. And welcome!! I enjoy your comments on Andrea's blog and am glad to see you here. I enjoy your page and liked your tribute to Solzhenitsyn.

It's nice to have another spider fan here. They really are fascinating creatures. I had so much fun finding them yesterday, although this morning I still have bits of Web still stuck in my hair.

laughingwolf said...

neat new digs, morg! ;)

thx for the nature lessons :)