Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spiderwoman


You know how when you start one chore, but end up doing something else completely?

That was me this morning. I started out clearing an enormous patch of a pretty flowers that quickly turn to bothersome burrs called by many names. The funnest one is Beggars Lice. The other two names are Showy Trefoil and Stick Tights.

I gathered up an entire 33 gallon trash can full of them and headed toward the burn pile. On my way, I spotted an area of overgrown spearmint (big surprise--not). I stooped over to start pulling mint and came upon a wolf spider. Upon closer inspection, I found that she was carrying a back full of baby spiders. According to my research, there are as many as 200 spiderlings on her back.

The first time I witnessed this was many years ago in Houston. I had gathered up a spider in a cup to take it outside. Within a moment, my cup was crawling with ensy weensy spiders. I was so surprised that I dropped the cup and watched helplessly as the miniature spiders made their way across my kitchen floor.

If you know me at all, you know I felt horrible that I had caused mother and babies to be separated. She scrambled under the table and I just left her there. Within an hour, many if not most, of her babies were back on board. This time, I just opened the sliding glass door and scootched her outside with an envelope.

While Wolf spiders can bite, they'd really rather not. They are fabulous predators to have in the garden. The female carries her egg sac around with her back legs until they hatch. The spiderlings crawl up on her back for a little protective mothering for about a week. After that, they're on their own. The Wolf spider and the Nursery Web Spider (aka Fishing Spider) are the only two of their kind to protect their young once they are hatched. I can't find any evidence that they feed their young in any way. Just a bit of protection until they can fend for themselves.


6 comments:

  1. I had a run-in with the stick tights the other day. Not as bad as yours, though.

    And I can understand how you feel about spiders. Most people do not. I worked with a lady who's spider phobia was almost debilitating. I knew when I heard that scream that I would have to rescue another spider out of her space.

    Even spiders with a nasty bite do more good than harm and are amazing engineers. I enjoyed the visual of you scootching the mamma and her little ones out the door with an envelope.

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  2. This is really cool! The mama spider and her babies I mean - I have never seen anything like this! This is one of the reasons I like blog reading - I learn new things all the time! I used to dread spiders....ok, I am only comfortable with the microscopic ones, which I can rescue, I let my hubby rescue the "big" ones:))

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  3. That is just so cool! Great pictures. Also the nature lesson was something I did not know -thanks for the info.

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  4. Oh Lord have mercy CeeCee... I hate spiders!!!!!!!!!!!! Eeeeeeeeeeeek! It is an informative post though (I also learned something new) - and, I had to chuckle when you mentioned your area of overgrown spearmint. Know exactly what you mean. :)

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  5. Fabulous pictures as usual! Even if I'm not overly fond of the subject matter. As long as the spiders are outside doing their thing, that's cool. I'm just not real fond of them coming inside to visit. . . ;-)

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  6. That was a big patch of beggars lice! We also call them Hitch Hikers. Either way, I bet you were happy to have them weeded out. The Wolf Spider picture is awesome! We go to great lengths around here to save beneficial spiders.

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