Creepy Crawlers: Orb Spiders
Along came a Spider and Sat Down beside…us!
Spiders, love them or hate them. Mostly hate them.
I consider myself a very brave person, but spiders can freak me out. So why am I fascinated with the ones in my yard? In particular the orb web weavers?
This time of year brings out the HUGE orb web spiders to our yard. Their webs are like nets stretched ACROSS our yard. Without fail you walk into one and the webbing actually stretches over you until you start flailing like an idiot because your primal brain goes-If the web is that big-the spider is that big, too! You only calm down when the web finally breaks and you escape!
Over the years we have had several memorable Orb Weaver Spiders. I can understand why one was a major character in the children’s book, Charlotte’s Web, because ours seemed to have their own creepy personalities.
The first was Simon, in a long line of spiders that would be named Simon by my then young sons. And yes, I know, web weavers are female, but all our “pets” were given male names. Simon the First lived under the gutter that could be seen from a window. Each day her web was perfect, and if you were lucky, you could see her spin it. That was a dance in perfection. If you don’t have the chance to watch one spin a web in your yard, please go on line and find a video. Orb spiders are experts in creating geometric works of art. She does it fast and exact, placing the lines of silk with her claw hook feet. I can imagine her humming as she walks along her main lines that are not sticky, so she doesn’t trap herself, to lay down the cross lines of the sticky stuff. Yes, humming away as she “knits” her trap anticipating catching something good!
One day a strong storm blew in, battering our home with high winds and rain. The boys were so worried that Simon would be blown away. When the sun came out, they rushed to the window to look for her. Sure enough, she had tucked herself up under the gutter and hung on with all eight legs. There she was again, starting to spin her web.
Which brings me to Diesel and her web.
Diesel, (sons now older, different name) was the most fun. She was a huge orb spider and she spun her web so it hung over the top part of the door to our garage. She was either interested in catching our dog or us, or had a sense of humor. My two oldest sons were now teenagers. One time out of ten they would remember to duck down under her web before going into the garage, peering upwards to try and get a bead on Diesel’s location. The other nine times they were in a hurry and forgot and would run into it and do the creeped out dance. After several days on end of this, they were getting mad. Diesel figured that out, so low and behold she adapted her web shape. I kid you not, she made it so the center of the web was tucked up, and kept from snagging them.
Diesel could be especially creepy. She hid up under the eave of our garage. I know this because I wanted to keep an eye on her. Remember, she was huge! One day I noticed a second orb spider up where she usually hangs out. This one was wider then Diesel. Now I found this interesting. Spiders don’t share their territory. And the poor males, are usually a lot smaller and just show up for one thing. Speaking of which, Orb Spiders have many eyes, but they don’t see well. So if a little male shows up with romance in mind, he carefully strums out his unique love song on the female’s web, hoping she is lulled into lust and not hearing the dinner bell!
Back to this other spider hanging out in Diesel’s lair. Over the next few days I didn’t really see it move, but it did seem to be getting fatter and fatter. Then, one day it was gone. I will leave that up to your imagination as to where it went.
It was a mild November that year, so Diesel took advantage of the longer hunting season. And even though she was very creepy, we did get attached to her and worried about what would happen to her with the first frost. This lead to a hair-brained idea to capture her.
Armed with a stick and a large empty plastic pretzel jar, my son and I plotted to catch her. Can you have goosebumps on top of goosebumps? Can you imagine squeals of fear? That was us attempting to scoop Diesel into the jar and get the lid on. Somehow we did it and laughed after how silly we looked and sounded.
With top lid secured, Diesel traveled to school with my youngest and became the focus of Show and Tell. Hmm, were we saving her life, or just messing with nature?
That night she tried to spin her web, like she did every night and day. With no real room to do it, all that was created was a mess of silk on the stick I put in there. She was not a happy camper, and probably glaring at me through the plastic with those eight beady eyes! And what was she going to eat? Not having a supply of bugs, all I could come up with were store bought crickets. So now I am trading one life for another. I drop in two crickets. Diesel appears to be sulking, and ignores them.
Don’t ask me why on the third day I chose to sit down next to the “aquarium” and look in, but I did and I regret it to this day. I guess she was hungry, for it was at that moment Diesel decided to trap a cricket. I couldn’t look away! In a matter of moments she decimated that insect, rolling it the whole time until it was a perfect round black pearl! It was a plus six hundred creep factor! I just gave myself chills remembering it! It was in that moment that all affection for her was gone. She had to go! Maybe that was her plan all along, to finally totally creep me out!
I informed my younger sons Diesel had to go. They were concerned it was too cold now to let her go outside. How about the attic? It didn’t seem to bother them that on the other side of the attic was their oldest brother’s bedroom. We wouldn’t tell him about the early release program going on. It commenced when he wasn’t home. A few days later the “probation officer” went to check on her, only to announce she was no where to be seen nor was there any evidence of a web. That was the last we saw of Diesel. Though not the last of her memory. That came at Thanksgiving Dinner when one of the brothers accidentally let it slip where Diesel went. Needless to say Number One Son was freaked and creeped out.
Here’s hoping you are having a right creepy Halloween season, and may you avoid getting caught in a spider’s web while trick or treating!