Sunday, May 30, 2010

Spring cleaning.

While Deb cleaned the back porch the spider hung motionless, watching her hair. Loving it. Wondering what it would be like to luxuriate in the silken tresses. To unburden herself of the massive clutch of eggs. Waiting.

When I got home that afternoon, I saw the canopy of web. Thinking that it was another massive wolf spider that frequently set up shop, I took a closer look. (They are always fun to feed.) The architecture struck me as a bit different from the norm. Rather than a single sheet that the spider would run along on top of, it was a complex sparkling latticework that occupied a volume rather than a single plane. Also the "house" was underneath the web, instead of on top and tucked back in a crevice.

A peek into the round opening revealed the truth. Deb was thrilled to realize that she spent most of that morning unknowingly face-to-face with this splendor of nature. After taking some images of the beastie and showing the kids what to look out for, the creature was humanely dispatched with a judicious application of chemicals. Its twitching carcass then gently placed upon the lid of an old coal stove and beaten with a rock until reduced to a sub-quantum level. (It's OK - I have been buying arachnid offsets through a payroll deduction.)

The web is a curious material. Stronger than a steel wire of the same diameter, the web makes a distinctive crackling sound when torn. I harvested it by wrapping it around a pair of bamboo skewers. I'm not sure if this is the best way to go about it, but I am hoping to collect enough to make a wristband or some-such thing.

If you are interested in Oklahoman critters like Black Widows and Brown Recluses, I highly recommend the book "The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators" by Gordon Grice. Especially if you have been planning on never setting foot outside your house, or raising your children in some sort of air-tight box.