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Spiders! No Eeking!

Monday, October 6, 2008

If there's any reason to love autumn, and there are millions, it's the prevalence of spiders. No, it's not much fun to get a faceful of web on your nice woods walk, but man, it's cool to spot the orb-weaver hanging there, to appreciate its work and the beauty of the little beast before you inadvertently destroy its web. I'm happy to dive off the trail if I can save the spider the trouble of weaving a new web, and save myself the creepy feeling of being draped in silk.

I've been collecting a few spider photos this fall, and thought I'd share them with you. This gorgeous little thing is Verrucosa arenata, found on a pawpaw leaf on the Athens bike trail. You'll see this species hanging in a big orb web across trails.This exquisite little thing, looking like no more than a thorn or a dropping until you peer closely, is Micrathena gracilis, another of the orb weavers, with mesmerizing parallell lines of black and grey on its oddly-shaped abdomen. The graceful little Athena. Clearly, whoever named this spider loved it.

I happened to be watching a funnel web spider (Agelenopsis pennsylvanica) by our front stoop when a big fly--perhaps a greenhead --simply dropped into its web. Swear I didn't do it--pure kismet. Agelenopsis dragged it without ceremony back into its silken lair behind the stoop. Yeah! Beats slapping it off your shoulder.

I reached into the pocket of my pants and felt something kind of hard and wiggly in there. It was Dysdera crocata, a female--the only common species in its family in Ohio. This nocturnal species preys primarily on pillbugs, and is fond of the same dark, moist underneathy spots pillbugs favor. Why it was in my jeans pocket only it knows.
I offered her a pillbug but I think she was too upset to partake, so I let them both go in a damp squashy place in the garden to sort it out.

Sometimes you find a spider what AM a spider. Raking the yard, piling up the seedy hay of autumn, I uncovered this big beauty, one of the biggest wolf spiders I've ever seen. And you have to love its name: Hogna helluo--again, a female. Where are all the male spiders? Seems like all I see is females. Isn't that a cracking name for a big fat spider?
Just to give you an idea how impressive this beastie was, here are my fingers next to her:
That's a big spider, my friends. Glorious huge vampire fangs in a pair on the bidness end, too. I finished my raking, leaving to Liam the task of watching her to safety on the lawn's edge. He escorted her all the way to the tall goldenrod so no one would step on her or swoop down and pick her up. That's my boy. Around here, we like spiders.


Me too--I like spiders. When I find one in the house, I almost always gently pick it up in a kleenex and escort it out doors. I suspect the spider isn't too thrilled being evicted, but I NEVER kill them.

They are cool to look at, but only outside. :c)

"Verrucosa arenata" ?
Isn't verrucosa the root for WART?

We like 'em around here, too. As long as they are outside. Had a huge passel of dust-sized ones on the door the other day. It was like the last scene of Charlotte's Web.

They are so interesting from oh ... say ... ten feet away.

My favorite spider watching was when I had a little guy/girl keeping house in my bathroom. A firefly somehow got in and trapped in the spider's web. I watched in awe and horror as the poor little firefly was blinking like crazy in what seemed like firefly morse code for HELP ME!! Then the blinking became slower, then slower...then...stopped.
Mwa haaahaaa!!

No, actually, I felt terrible for the little guy but my little spider gots ta eat.

I was doing fine until I saw your hand next to that enormous Hogna helluo.
It mad me blurt out "Oh, my Lord"

I'm sure hoping it's too cold for those big beasties up here in Minnesota.

I give spiders a wide berth unless they are completely spread out across a horse trail at face height. Then, I get all squeamish and poke at them with my reins to knock down the web. Worse is when they drop down my back and I am flailing around up in the air on top of my horse trying to get them off. Granted, the lovely things think they are safely high enough until this massive four legged beast with a lazy two legged beast on top marches by.

Erm... eeek!?! Just kidding. Sort of. I'll admit to not being a big fan of spiders. I WON'T admit to going running on a little-used trail and waving a branch out in front of me the whole way to clear the spider webs, because no one saw it and you can't prove anything.

You pulled what out of the pocket of your jeans?


Orb weavers are cool unless you get draped in their web and carry one inside the house...

The Hogna helluo? No thanks.

I'll have nightmares tonight.

Sorry, but I just gotta eek! I grant spiders their important place in the ecosystem - I just wish they wouldn't bite me so often. I guess I just taste good. I almost walked into what I now suspect was a Hogna, about that size, hanging out in our doorway tonight. And here in Arkansas, we have black widows, which I suppose are cool enough, but not when they invade your house, as they have done to some friends of mine. You have to step carefully when they are about.

Holy Moley Julie, that's one huge spider! I'm afraid I would "EEK" if I came across something like that in my backyard (but I wouldn't kill it either)

Never kill a spider: it brings bad luck on the third day.

I will have to do a post about spiders too. I just love to find them here and there. One we found has such beautiful colors, sort of irredescent. No eeking here.

Pillbug! How dare you smite the good name of the Roly Poly! Which, according to Dr. Wiki, has been the commonly accepted name since 1967. Every eight year old playing in the dirt asks you to please set the record right to your pantheon of readers. What I didn't know is that the blood of pillbugs is an excellent mosquito repellent. I'm gonna start crushing me a batch now. Take it with a grain of salt I suppose: Dr. Wiki also says they have no natural predator. Wiki should chat with an eight year old - all those under-rock explorers know that reddish Dysdera crocata as well as the beloved Roly Poly.

Very apropos to the season! I think there should be a "creepy" award for such pictures ;)

I love spiders outside, too. Some of them I can even enjoy inside...if they're small and don't bite me or dangle in front of my eyes too often. It doesn't seem very fair that these are the conditions I've set up for spider-human goodwill now does it?

I have a good friend who is famous for saying (while setting up camp, batting away flies and brushing pine needles off a picnic table), "I love camping. Except for the nature part".

There was a spider in your pocket????

Um... I'm gonna go now...

Great spiders you've got there. Love that wolf spider. We had one living in the garage sink back in Washington. I checked on it everyday, just to say hello.

Dog Geek,

I have a "spider stick" too. Carry it everytime I'm out in nature this time of year.

Don't be ashamed, LOL!

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