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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Win

Over the years, mom may have regretted giving me this book as a child. I took it to heart. It's the story of Helen the Spider, who started life as a boy's pet and ended up Queen Spider at the zoo, keeping everybody happy by catching mosquitoes.

Seems it's out of print now. That's too bad. It was a good book with a "green" message I can actually support.

I have spiders. I'm an organic gardener, and that means I want spiders in my yard to deal with insect pests. Spiders do that, you know.

At one time, my house was surrounded by trap spiders. I call them "tunnel spiders," although I'm not sure that's what they are. Their webs form tunnels that drop the prey into the spider's waiting jaws. They are hunting spiders: long, lean and scary-looking.

Over the last few years, the trap spiders have vanished. I don't know why. I leave their egg sacks when I find them. I rarely kill them. Even the ones who find their way into my house get escorted back outside with the help of a glass and a thick piece of paper. Maybe it's the cold weather.

Now I have garden spiders. But they are weird-looking. The first time I saw one, I thought it was a spider eating another insect. Garden spiders have giant, round abdomens, but these guys have abdomens shaped like a Minbari bone crest. But, they're spiders, so I leave them alone.

Except, two of the little critters have been spinning their webs across my front door. I have a porch with a post outside my door. You can approach the door from two sides. The post hosts a huge Jackmani clematis (and a tunnel spider at the very top). These little spiders have each taken a side of the porch on which to spin their lovely little webs.

As I said, I don't kill spiders. I try not to kill anything (that's another post). I've been trying to convince these little guys to spin their webs somewhere else. Even three feet higher would do. It's a bit of a gamble. Every time I destroy a web, I'm destroying its food source and forcing it to use energy to spin another web. I've done my best to be very careful to keep as much of the web intact as possible when I move it. Yes, I'm weird. We've established that.

Yesterday, I succeeded. One spider has found enough bushy bits of clematis to hold a respectable web, and the other has moved its web up about three feet. I haven't been out this morning, but I'm hoping this is still true.

They aren't Helen, but they could be her cousins. And they're welcome to all the mosquitoes they can catch. I have 15 bites on me that attest I have more than my share available.

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