Last week, on the first day of spring, a spider found itself in the tub.An American House Spider (I think), Parasteatoda tepidariorum. I got close with the camera and somehow brushed a line of silk, so that when I moved away, I inadvertently pulled the spider with me: it danced like a tiny puppet at the end of that invisible line. Sorry! And then I noticed, that being in a tub, which is designed to shed water, it was having some difficulty in getting out. So I used a small scallop shell, typical bathroom equipment in this house, to gently move it. As some of the guides noted, it played dead for a while but was soon on its way. Wherever it wanted to go.
Posts Tagged 'spiders'
Tags: Brooklyn, spiders
Last month, I watched a spider feed heartily and then build a silken sac for her young. Two weeks ago, the young spiderlings emerged from the sac. And just sat there for several days. Then the mother spider disappeared. And a few days after that, all the little ones. In the outdoors, some young spiders disperse by ballooning, releasing threads of silk that catch the breeze. In our House of Spiders, they may to a little of this as well as motivate with their eight legs.
And in this corner, a click beetle, so named because they make a “click” when they flip up into the air (it helps them turn over should they find themselves belly-up) and a spider. The battle, such as it was, lasted for most of a day. I could hear the haunting click from a neighboring room. Then the spider, having won, started drinking, and that lasted for most of a day, too. And then some two days later:This egg case was clearly fueled by all that click beetle juice. I assume that’s the male on the left, typically smaller when it comes to spiders.
I have to say, spiders are not to be emulated as good housekeepers. Once they’ve drained their prey, they have a husk of an exoskeleton remaining (try some shrimp shell). So they discard it, in this case into corners, window sills, etc.
Tags: insects, invertebrates, Nantucket, spiders, wasps
Two summers ago, a Black and Yellow Mud Dauber wasp built her nest in the Back 40 (inches). A new generation of these large, black-bodied wasps with yellow legs emerged in June of last year. This year I had one inside the house. Not here in Brooklyn, but at the family house in Massachusetts. This wasp was building her nest in the front door frame, between the screen and house doors. The screen door of the old manse is sagging, so there’s a gap at the top, which allowed her access.As the name mud-dauber suggests, these wasps build their nests out of mud, individual cells first, then a surrounding stucco of mud around the cluster of cells. Here she was just starting out. One of the inch-long cells had been sealed, the other was still open and unfilled.Inside each cell, the wasp lays an egg atop the provisions she has brought for the larva-to-come. The young eat paralyzed spiders.I shooed the wasp out of the house half a dozen times before I found the location of the developing nest. Regretfully, I broke it up and found these four spiders in the sealed cell. But then a couple of days later, in the same door frame, clearly an excellent location — water is dried mud’s worst enemy — another cell appeared. It’s darker on the left hand side of the cell because the mud there is still wet.This one had thirteen spiders crammed into it.There are several different species of orb-weavers here. The abdomen certainly do look meaty.Really sorry I had to break up the housekeeping here, considering the huge amount of work this one wasp had to do. She carried bit after bit of mud — it’s been dry on the island too, but I’m guessing the construction site next door might have been a source — and hunted down the spiders on her own. Like a lot of adult predatory wasps, she herself is a vegetarian, supping on nectar. Meanwhile, there are cleptoparasitic wasps who like to avail themselves of the provisioning the Black and Yellow wasp does. Endlessly fascinating is the natural world.
Tags: insects, invertebrates, spiders, St. John
An antennae-span of nearly three inches to greet the early risers.When this moth flew into the veranda, everyone thought it was a bat with it’s 4-inch wingspan.Katydids, part of the night chorus, could usually be found lazing around during the day. This one was caught in a brief rain shower.Saw the same species on Virgin Gorda last year.Paper wasps known locally as Jack Spaniards (perhaps because they can be stinging annoyances), nesting under a Tyre Palm, the only native palm species left on the island. The wasps were to be found under many a leaf. Open this image up to get a closer look at their smoky, mahogany-colored wings. This spider, with its ornate spiny abdomen, has some prey in its silky clutches.18 degrees north of the Equator, things will have a tendency wander into your bathroom and just die there. Several species of scorpion are found on the island. About four inches long, these big African millipedes, known locally as gongolo, originated in Madagascar and probably came over during the slave trade. Will spray a nasty cocktail at you if they don’t like you, evidently, but I’m pretty lovable and thus remained unscathed.
I returned to the house Sunday afternoon to find Saturday’s spider on the floor. A single silk line connected my desk chair to the desk.
Brooklyn Invertebrate CSI: The rear of the abdomen looks deflated, while the front is grotesquely distended. Parasite? Disease?
Tags: Brooklyn, invertebrates, spiders
While I was putting together yesterday’s post and eating three different kinds of New York state grapes from the farmer’s market, I noticed something alive in the middle of the air under my desk. It was slowly descending. And then rather more quickly ascending. She tried several times to crawl up onto the top of my desk, but then decided to just hang out underneath it. I don’t believe I’ve seen a spider with green legs before.She presented quite a photographic challenge, moving up and down her silkline, before settling in. About eight inches from my computer, right on the edge of the desk. She was there all afternoon Saturday, but then I had to leave the house. (This post will automatically launch before I return, so I wonder if she will still love me tomorrow?)Orchard Orbweaver, Leucauge venusta, one of the long-jawed orbweavers of the family Tetragnathidae. I think L.C. Tiffany would also have admired the pattern and colors of her abdomen.
Tags: Brooklyn, insects, invertebrates, spiders
I read somewhere recently that we, all of us, are always within two or three feet of a spider. There are untold billions of them in the world, and some of them do like the comforts of a less an immaculately kept house. This is one of (at least) two species that likes my bathroom.Right outside the backdoor, meanwhile, clinging to a metal column: a grasshopper missing one of its hind, jumping, legs. And yet seeming to get along.Sorry, Jainists. Note the b&w striped legs of what remains of this Asian tiger mosquito in a pool of my Achilles heel blood. The striping is the inspiration for their common name.
Tags: bees, beetles, insects, invertebrates, Nantucket, spiders
Ah, summer, season of buzzing and flying and biting! The insects are out in force. OK, there’s really not that much biting, per se. Seen last week on Nantucket: One of the green metallic bees, genus Agapostemon, also known as sweat bees, on chicory flower. Note the big bundles of pollen around the legs.
A small Syrphid fly on one of the wild roses.
Freezing a beetle for a minute or two makes it easier to photograph, but then you get the dead beetle look. (And since only Paul and Ringo are still around…) The bug, one of the long-horned beetles, specifically Strangalia luteicornis, revived.Genus Photinis firefly.The battering of June bugs, genus Phyllophaga, against window screens was a constant of my island youth. They still come towards the lights, the poor bastards. And sometimes they get in. This one promptly fell to the floor on its back, lurched around, and then upwards into the air and was almost immediately caught in spider silk underneath a table. Although the spider was much smaller, it eventually captured what must have been food for a week. The flash here captures the beetle’s elytra, the shell-like coverings of the wings, as well as the wonderfully feathered antennae.
(All my Nantucket posts can be found here.)