Monday, October 27, 2008

Spiders Revisited

This has been the week of the spider. I was walking through the living room the other day and noticed my cat and both dogs were sitting in a circle, staring at the carpet. I thought, at first, that they were staring at a dried leaf (they've done stranger things) but when I looked closer, I realized they were staring at a huge wolf spider. The spider looked odd to me, as if it had some sort of bumpy disease, so I carefully slipped a piece of paper beneath it and carried it outside. I didn't need to put a bowl on top because it didn't try to run away. Once outside, it carefully stepped off the paper and walked a few inches away, then turned to look at me. I was staring at it for quite some time before I realized what was on its back--baby spiders!

Wolf spiders are rather unique in that they carry their egg sacs on their bellies. Once the eggs hatch, the baby spiders climb onto the mama's back for a free ride until they're strong enough to creep about on their own. This gives the mama spider a bumpy appearance, almost like a toad's back. Wolf spiders are strong, smart and sneaky, which probably serves them well as mothers! They generally only bite if provoked and have always struck me as being rather passive toward humans, though protective of their own safety. They are so beneficial, though! They munch all the nasty, little bugs that eat and destroy crops and generally hang out in priaries and fields. We have a little of both on our property and are also surrounded by heavy forests, so the spider in my house wasn't too far from home, but she definately would not have been happy inside!

My husband and I recently returned from a trip through New Mexico. Just before we reached the state, a tropical storm moved through and they had what we now refer to as "hundred year floods" in the areas we passed. What we found astounded us. We didn't see any actual flooding, just puddles. But we did see hundreds of tarantulas walking across the highways and standing on the side of the road. These were some of the largest spiders I have ever seen and even at 65 mph we could see them distinctly as we drove past. We assumed they were driven out because of the rain. We had this happen near us once before when we lived out in the Colorado priaries near Wyoming. These were wolf spiders, too, that were brought up after a rain when flooding was caused in their homes because we had moved the land around while we were building our own home. I felt sorry for all the displaced spiders, but they quickly adjusted--and moved closer to our back door. Oh well. Such is life.

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