Thursday, August 18

Spotlighting spiders

I have noticed an interesting thing: many "chick bloggers" seem to be big fans of spiders. Huh. I don't know what that means, but count me among them.

I am one of the "used to hate 'em, now I am fascinated by 'em" school. I have had many experiences with spiders; they seem particularly attracted to me. I once was almost asleep when I felt a gentle thump on my head. I thought to myself, "Self, you can go ape-shit crazy and jump up screaming and perhaps get bitten by what ever that was, or you can calmly turn on the light and check it out." I managed to remain calm, and sure enough, a spider had fallen from the ceiling and into my hair. I wonder if he thought to himself, "Self, you can go spider-shit crazy and perhaps get smushed by whatever tangly thing you have landed in, or you can remain calm and try to sneak off ignominiously."

Did you know that the common garden spider doesn't like being poked with a stick and will jump up and down, shaking the web madly, when this is done? (Bad blogger!) Or that that cute little jumping spider can see pretty well and seems interested in humans? I had a jumping spider fall in love with me on my back porch one summer day--he wouldn't leave me alone, and each time I brushed him off my leg and down the steps, he made the arduous trip all the way back up to crawl on me again. Finally, I let him go to see what he would do. When I could no longer see him, I went and looked in the mirror, and he was perched on top of my head.

Jumping Spider courtesy of

There are spiders who can catch fish, spiders who can change color, and spiders who can spit poisonous silk the huge distance of 10 millimeters. Spider silk is stronger than steel, spider web filaments were used in gun sights as the 'cross hairs' until the early 1960's, and the theory is that no one on earth is ever more than 3 feet away from some spider. Yep, spiders are pretty neat, and the ones you run across in you day-to-day lives are generally not poisonous to you. And if you are certain every fast little guy running over your carpet is a brown recluse, I suggest that you look up the word recluse, as it doesn't mean what you think it does.

So, with all of this in mind, let me suggest an interesting nighttime activity--wolf spider spotlighting. All you need is a flashlight, a mowed back yard, and girded loins. Wolf spiders are nighttime hunters and have reflective eyes, much like a cat's. Go to the edge of the yard and hold the flashlight next to your head right above your ear. You will then see the reflection of the spider's eyes as they prowl around for food. When I and several of my friends did this some years ago, it was amazing. We were in a fairly-sized back yard and there were literally dozens of wolf spiders. They ignored us, and you could walk right up on them and check out what they had caught. I had no idea what a jungle the suburban backyard really is.
Wolf Spider courtesy of Learners Online

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