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Friday, October 22, 2010

Our long-term house guest

For at least a month now, we have had a guest who has taken up residence on our back porch.  She is about 2 inches long, has 8 legs, and every other night she builds a huge web right across the opening of our sliding glass door.  Now, despite the fact that Brian has managed to walk through the web many many times on his way to take the garbage out (I'm a little shorter, so I usually miss it), this is actually a rather ingenious place for this spider to have chosen.  At night, when she builds her web, the moths are all attracted to the door by the light coming through from our dining room.  So pretty much any night she builds a web, she feasts.  Which I think is really pretty awesome because, standing immediately on the other side of the glass, I have been able to watch her catch, poison, and entomb her prey and then drag it off to her hidey corner for consumption.

And as I watched, I always thought how cool it would be to show Mira.  But because this spider only builds her web at night, I hadn't had an opportunity to show Mira... until earlier this week.

I have been preparing Mira for daylight savings time by slowly shifting her schedule later and later.  And this one day, the spider decided to build her web a little earlier in the evening.  The combination of the two meant that Mira finally got to see this thing in action.  I held her up and showed her and explained what it was.  Mira said "eat".  Me: "You want the spider to eat?"  Mira: "Yeah."  So then we sent Daddy out onto the porch to try and catch a moth to throw into the spider's web so that Mira could see how she ate.  Daddy made a very valiant effort, but he wasn't faster than nature.  As he was trying to catch a moth, another one flew into the web on its own and Mira got to watch as the spider darted over and stung it and then wrapped it in silk.  Mira thought that was pretty awesome and she held her hand out to the spider and pointed at her open palm with her other hand.  Me: "You want to hold the spider?"  Mira: "Yeah!!!"  I then had to explain how we shouldn't touch the spider because we might hurt it or scare it since it was much littler than us.  She seemed to accept that explanation, but there was no way she would let me put her down, she kept watching that spider for a good long time.

Anyway, here are some pics of our guest.  You can tell from the quality that I'm not a talented photographer by any stretch.  Oh well...

Oh also, I should mention that the day we first noticed this spider, I did some research to find out what kind of spider she is.  I wanted to make sure she wasn't anything to worry about and she has some pretty distinctive markings so I was pretty sure I could confidently identify her.  Turns out she's a brown orb weaver, specifically from the genus Neoscona.  My research indicated that they are "reluctant to bite" and that if bitten, you'd basically get a little red irritated bump.  And also, they are reputed to be excellent mosquito catchers.  So we decided to let her stay as long as she wanted... turns out she must like the arrangement as well, since she's stuck around so long.

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