August 12th, 2007
My pet spider has been eaten (Geekiness of a great degree ahead. You have been warned)

Every year since we’ve lived here, outside our patio door (and by our front door), we get furrow spiders. They start out as wee widdle bebe spiders and get big fast. They’re the classic orb spinner and make huge, beautiful webs. In the mornings during the fall, these classic webs hang all over our house and in the trees covered in dew. It’s magnificent. I know a lot about furrow spiders because at one point I thought they might be brown recluses, so I researched and researched like hell to determine if that might be true. They look much the same, though the furrow spider is much larger and her behavior is much different. (Brown Recluse don’t spin the classic webs, and they don’t climb or tolerate humans well. They lurk in the corners, in the attics, and the closets.)

The furrow spider is not poisonous, though I’m sure I don’t want her to bite me. It would probably hurt. She’s harmless, beneficial even. She just wants to spin her web every night, catch her prey, eat her web (every night), and make more widdle bebe spiders. She does get pretty threatening at full size and she does have a disconcerting tendency to drop down fast and hard on a silk strand if disturbed, her long crab-like legs kicking. It’s enough to produce a gut-level BLARG reaction in anyone. But as long as she stays out of my house, I’m fine with her living her life and spinning her webs. I’m definitely fine with her pest control behavior.

Every night, I watch her spin a new web. However I have never seen her eat her web. She does that at dawn, before she retires to her sleeping place for the day, where she keeps her babies. So, in the evening, she comes out and spins. By bedtime she’s sitting in the middle, once in a while scurrying out to snare prey that has been caught. She’s fast and vicious. It’s truly amazing to watch. Every night she grows larger and larger. (They have a life span of about a year) In the morning, there is no web, but I know where she sleeps, so I can look up to find her there.

She spun her web last night, but at bedtime she wasn’t sitting in the middle of it like usual. This morning her web is still there, insects caught in it. She didn’t eat it like she should’ve. Also, she’s not in her sleeping area. As of last night she was an adolescent spider, about halfway to being a scary adult.

There is, however, a grasshopper clinging to the side of my house. He looks full and has an expression of murderous satisfaction on his tiny green face. He was there yesterday afternoon, too. So I can only assume furrow spider has been made a dinner of. If furrow spider had been an adult, she might have made it.

It’s a brutal insect world out there, man.

But I know it won’t be long before another furrow spider arrives to take the cherry place at the patio door, right under our light that draws all the delicious insects from miles around.

Just one more little bug story from our country yard, where the dragonflies, hummingbirds and butterflies whizz about in profusion. The giant toads (dude, I mean monsterous) live in the pond, and the preying mantises are large enough to star in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode.

ETA: The grasshopper has been marked off my list of murder suspects. They don’t eat other insects. Huh. Who knew?

2 comments to “My pet spider has been eaten (Geekiness of a great degree ahead. You have been warned)”

  1. oooh i love spiders – and yeah, most think that’s weird. But i have my family all trained to not damage webs outside and to set free any spiders in the house they run across.

  2. Oh, good. I’m not the only freak. 😉