“Stop! Look out!” DH blurted the other day, as I lifted my fork to dig in to my dinner. Puzzled but willing, I pushed back my chair, my eyes following his finger to where he was pointing. A delicate pink and silver spider, all long slender legs and teardrop body, hung above my plate right at eye level. A tiny fairy pirouetting gracefully, twisting and turning as she lowered herself via the spun silk she had fastened to the light fixture overhead. Where was she going? Did she want my dinner? Who knew.
DH stood up, carefully grasped her mooring line well above her current location, at which point she reversed course and started heading back up, and walked to the door with her sailing behind. I thanked him for saving me from a Miss Muffet moment, and we continued our meal.
We taught our children growing up to respect spiders (they’re GOOD bugs, they eat the bad bugs) and each time we were called to deal with another eight-legged intruder we captured it carefully and let it go outside. We generally use the glass and paper method, doming the spider in the glass, then sliding the paper between our quarry and the wall (care must be taken to not break their little legs), before upending the cup and with the paper lid held on firmly, making for the closest outside door.
Despite consistent role-modelling, our children still ended up with a diversity of spider reactivity. One kid screamed and had to restrain herself from killing on sight, one kid more calmly asked for help in capturing, and one kid, heaven help us, trapped them herself then released into her own bedroom…”so it could join the rest of her spider family”.
I have spiders on my mind, because this is the time of year when our lives intersect more closely than usual with the spider members of our environment. They’re just around more. The outside ones busy finishing up their lifecycles, getting ready to lay their eggs I guess, and the inside ones predicting rain.
Every single morning I feel at least one web tighten, then snap across my face as I walk the paths thru our muddy valley. I am so used to this that I just keep walking while apologizing to the spider, and asking them, in case they end up somewhere on my person and can understand English, if they could please depart expeditiously. This seems to work fine. I have never yet come across a spider hanging out on my person. They are in as much of a hurry to leave me as I am to have them depart. We are of one mind on the matter.
The ground webs, woven between convenient grass hummocks and sparkling in the dewy early morning, are easier to see and thus easier to avoid. And they are everywhere too.
Last week one of our daughters came to stay for a few days, and late one night after I was in bed, her and her dad had a spider adventure that I heard all about the next morning.
She had reached over to twist on the bedside table lamp when she came nose-to-nose with a big hairy brown spider (it was 👌 THIS BIG!!) chilling on the lampshade. Startled, she screamed loudly, “…and Mom” she exclaimed “I clearly saw that spider jump at the sound of my voice, and then freeze!”
“Well” I replied, “I’m sure you frightened him”.
Dad was called, and made a play for the spider with his glass, but the big fellow neatly evaded capture, dropped to the floor and scrambled for safety. DH and daughter, in hot pursuit, finally lost him among the spare blanket and winter clothing detrius of the guest room closet. I heard about the hunt and the spider’s exceptional size from DH too. Probably a descendent of K’s spider family I mused, as I imagined him still safely ensconced in his guest room (her old bedroom) closet.
Every year about this time I grow familiar with one or two specific spiders, who have chosen to reside in spots I frequent. This year I have a barn buddy spider. She has spun her web right above the log brace we hang the baling twine over.
I noticed her the other week, as after opening a new hay bale I reached up to add two more lengths of twine to the hank. Panic-struck at what she evidently saw as the imminent destruction of her web by my hand, she was running up to take refuge on top of the barn door when I noticed her. I was careful to avoid causing damage to her web as I hung my string and I told her so. After all, spiders are very useful in the barn, they eat the bad bugs there too. The next time I opened a bale, I talked to her in a reassuring manner as I slowly stowed the twine, she wavered and retreated, but just a little way this time. The last two times I added string, she hasn’t budged but sits watching me carefully as I greet her, reassure her I mean no harm, and add my string to the hank. We apparently now have an understanding, which is delightful.
I love that we have such a healthy spider population in our muddy valley. They are useful and fascinating little creatures, although I must admit that like most wildlife (and sometimes people too) I do prefer to admire them from a safe distance.