Tuesday, October 15, 2013

European Cross spiders (Araneus
diadematus) have taken over the garden. Care must be taken when transversing the yard. It is easy to walk right thorough a web which results in the funny "Brush, brush, wiggle, get this off me before the spider lands on me" dance.

I am mostly successful in performing this dance but last week I was not so lucky and felt a sharp pain on my neck. This resulted in the "OwOw brush this off" move and the spider was the unlucky one.  She lay, curled on the ground, trailing webbing.

Fear pierced my heart. I rushed to the mirror looking for bite marks. Hmm nothing. Most spiders are harmless, yes? But was this one of them? And she did bite my neck. Very close to the head. A trip the to Nature Mapping Foundation website was required.

I was reassured to read that yes very few spiders carry enough venom to harm humans and this was not one of them. I went back out and retrieved her little body. I try to avoid the webs and if I can't, I gently move them to one side but I didn't see this one and she paid the price for my inattention.

They have several names: Cross Orb Weaver, Diadem or European Garden spider. When the webs are destroyed they quickly rebuild, eating up the old web to manufacture new. Since they often build a new web each day I don't feel so bad breaking webs when they are across walkways.

These are the spiders that form the delightful spider nurseries in the spring. One day I'll find a little ball of moving yellow somewhere in the yard, once on a deck chair, once on the front door (we had to use the back door for several days) and this year on the sliding screen to the deck.

When they first hatch they stay in a tight little ball. Each day they venture farther but always cuddle up with their siblings at night. One day they disperse and are wafted around the garden to set up their own households.

The Burke Museum has a spider myths page to help you get over your tingles about these marvelous creatures.

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