Spiders

We just got back from a week out of town. This morning I opened the cupboard to get the peanut butter jar and surprised a nice little brown spider who had made her home inside. She also startled me a bit, but only because I wasn’t expecting to find something moving inside the cupboard. I tried to catch her (to release outside) but failed. No big deal. I just cleaned up some of the web mess and let her be. I’ll probably find her and more web mess again in a few days. When I got into my car last night (after more than a week of it sitting idle) I also had to wipe away a few strands of web from the steering wheel and mirror. I’m sure they’d take over the world if humans weren’t around!

I used to be very, very afraid of spiders, but no longer am. I credit my weeks with Gabriella for desensitizing me to them. Gabriella was a garden spider (or araneus diadematus) that made her home just outside our front door late summer in 2006. Since I was taking a break from work at the time, I had the opportunity to observe and photograph her for several weeks. It was a wonderful experience, not just for the photographs I got from it, but also for the chance to learn so much about spiders. Even better, I later discovered that I no longer had that paralyzing fear of spiders that I’d always had and hated.

Gabriella, a garden spider.

Gabriella, a garden spider.

That shot of Gabriella shows her in October with a recent catch, a bee. She had grown considerably from the time I first found her in late August. I love the design on her back. One day I found her hanging from her recently sloughed off exoskeleton. I didn’t realize what I was looking at until my son filled me in. She had molted and was “stretching” out her new “skin” as it dried.  Fascinating! And, yes, she’s a she. The males are much smaller. I did see a male about 20 feet away one day (see below). They don’t build the orb webs like the females, who have to eat a lot to grow and produce eggs. I hoped he’d find her. I also hoped that I’d get to see her egg sack, but I never did. She had moved to a different bush and then the rains came and I lost track of her. The next spring I found more garden spiders, though, so I like to think they were her offspring.  🙂

Male garden spider

Male garden spider

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Filed under Miscellany, Nature

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