Lady Spider: the flip side

This morning I ventured out while the air was cool.  The heat and humidity have been so oppressive that it was a shock to open the door and feel a delicious breeze to greet me.

I set to work pulling grass and other weeds to throw over to Polly and the gang.  They come running, honking thanks, to chow down.  Though they carefully remove the spurge.  (I think they don’t like its milky sap.)

I worked my way down the row of tomatoes and there she was!  My Lady Spider from last week’s post… Posing in perfect lighting!  I ran for my camera, and quickly washing the grime from my hands, I dried, then ran back out again.

I caught her.

Is a leftover leg from your previous meal as embarrassing as having spinach in your teeth on a date?

Then as I watched a rather large insect flew by and was caught in her web.  Faster than I could respond, she was there, but I was able to get a few shots of what transpired next!

Quickly she began to twirl the insect with her legs, all the while coating it with a jet of silk shot from her spinnerets.

Now as I watched she stopped for a moment and…

inflicted her victim with a venomous bite.

I continued watching as she cut her prey loose and in a flash ran back to the center of her web…

where she will dine at her leisure.

End note:

Spiders, lacking teeth, must dine on a liquid diet.  Using specialized mouth parts called chelicerae they inject poison into their victims.  The poison paralyzes their meal, but does not kill.

The world of spiders may chill you gentle reader, but without them we would be awash in insect pests of all sorts and descriptions!  I find their world fascinating, yet repulsive.   However, the thought of the alternative finds me giving the ladies my blessings to hunt the gardens here.


The center zigzag pattern of the orb weaver‘s web is called the stabilimentum, and although it has been named, it is up in the air as to the function it serves.  Some say camouflage for the spider, others say to keep birds from flying through it (or unwary gardeners walking into it!) Still others claim it attracts insects into the web.  Whatever its use to the spider it is surely of varied and interesting construction!  Please do follow the link, via a click on the word above, to see some of these variations.  For those of a more scientific mind, please look on the web page Psyche A Journal of Entomology which can be found here:

Photo Friday: the invasion has begun

Like aliens from some unknown realm

they dig their way to the surface

climb the nearest building, tree,

or truck tire.

There they latch on tightly,

and begin to split down the middle…

emerging as


For most of the summer they will buzz

in the heat of the day,

singing in waves across pastures

and through forest stands

calling, calling, calling,*

till they find the response

they were looking for.


Cicadas lie in the ground for 13 years and then emerge en masse.  Apparently, 2011 is the year!  This year marks the Magicicada XIX!

Just for fun:

A recent news story out of Tennessee about Chocolate covered Cicadas

AND, possibly more info, and videos, than you ever wanted to know about the curious little creatures  can be found… HERE!

*I took a drive to Collinsville, Alabama on a two lane highway (Hwy. 11) through the country.  Radio on, windows up, I think, “What is that noise?”   Turning off the radio and rolling down the windows I hear it…  Imagine multiplying  the call (linked in ‘calling’ above) by hundreds of thousands and you will know what I heard!  Amazing sound for a little one inch flying bug!

My Summary of Summer…

We are having the most perfect fall morning.  You know…  the one where the sky is just the right shade of blue, the sun makes everything shine, and the air is cool and clear.   I open the windows and breathe in deeply…  Thinking of Summer’s demise and the official start of fall the Equinox that will not arrive until “…03:09 (or 3:09am) Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on September 23, 2010…” officially speaking.  And that brings me to…

My Summary of Summer: or how I learned to survive and enjoy it in spite of the drought.

Yee-gads, what a summer it has been!  With fall preparations right around the corner I take these few moments to share with you.  So here it is.  The truth of it.

We’ve lost, gained, learned and grown, in our knowledge of gardening, critters and bees.  However, we found out essential things along the way.  For this is the importance of our lessons after all… that we have indeed learned from them.

Lessons such as:

  1. Hawks gotta eat.  We lost one Buff Polish rooster and a Guinea Hen to the hawks this summer.  We were very sad about it but out of 35 beaks we consider the losses minimal.
  2. Chickens don’t like snakes.  Well really, we knew that, but what we didn’t know was that they would actually chase them off the property!  Amazing to see!
  3. When vegetable gardening you need to plant about four times as much as you think you will need.  Why?  Because you need enough for you and the little squirrels and voles that love to nibble the bottoms off of every tomato, pepper, and bean within their reach.  You also need enough to feed all the squash bugs and tomato horn worms, and any other insect that comes by to dine!  And this is important… you need enough to share with the neighbors who graciously put up with the noise and flies that your menagerie will produce (no matter what you do to combat them)!  Although a dozen eggs now and again goes a long way to keeping them from complaining!  ;D
  4. Murphy’s Law – If there is a draught and you fix the pump and get it going, then the rain will come… in buckets and torrents!  AND  If stops raining again, then you will surely dig up the electric line that was buried shallowly in the soil and end up running a very long extension cord out to make it run again… yes REALLY!
  5. Bees, if properly housed and protected, can be quite self-sufficient and really need little else from me.  I pretty much leave them alone, they have plenty of their own stores to eat, are healthy, and show little evidence of dreaded intruders such as hive beetle, veroa mites and wax moths.  In fact, it would seem that my chickens do a very good job of breaking the cycle of the hive beetles, and I have seen no evidence of mites or wax moths.  Bees are very impressive little critters!

All in all I feel that difficulties we faced were minor, the knowledge we have gained was invaluable, and this winter will allow us to do quite a bit to be more prepared for next spring and summer!

Things we need to do between now and next spring are:

  1. Build the geese an outside hut for sleeping in.  Right now they are being shepherded into the barn each night.  They need a little home of their own!
  2. Build a cold frame for starting seeds.
  3. Build a potting table (done!!!) with an old kitchen sink in it.  It will be useful for transplanting seedlings into newspaper cups and placing picked fruits and vegetables up off the ground so the chickens can’t peck them.  Oh the sink?  Well that will be a good place to wash the soil off of everything before I bring it into the house.
  4. Build a garden bench to sit and rest a spell while I contemplate work that needs doin’,  to look at all I have accomplished, and to take  a moment now and again to be grateful for all I have been blessed with!

Were you blessed this summer?  Perhaps you might take a moment to write a comment and share your blessings with other readers?

I hope so!


P.S.  I’ve a bit of humor to share with you before I close.



Why, its Lil’ Bit on the prowl!

Now…  how could you possibly be afraid of that?