My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Charlotte on Steroids

Warning: Any of you askeered o'spiders should just avert your eyes and back away immediately, and come back tomorrow for my SkyWatch post instead! :-)

So this evening I'm in the back yard mowing when I spied some weeds my mower had just revealed and bent down to pull them, which I do all the time (no herbicides for this kid!) so I'm accustomed to very close encounters with earthworms. But imagine my surprise tonight when I suddenly noticed a three-inch spider a few inches from my weed-pulling hand, looking at me thoughtfully with her eight eyes! Even I, who am generally not squeamish around critters, uttered a squeaky little "eek!" and jumped to my feet in record speed. But she just sat there unperturbed. So I got back down for a closer look, and that's when I noticed she had little baby spiders riding on her back! Awww...


My cameras and gear were all packed for our trip but I ran upstairs and grabbed the little Kodak. The quality isn't great with the early evening light (she was actually a dark brown color, not grey like in these photos), but I was glad to be able to get these, and she was very patient about it. I took this one with the toe of my size 8½ sneaker in it for scale...


Turns out she wasn't really Charlotte on steroids, she was a wolf spider (a species that doesn't even spin a web!) I didn't want to mow over her and didn't want the dogs to get her (or vice versa, since wolf spiders can bestow a rather nasty defensive bite), so I caught her and kept her in an old 2-lb coffee can while I finished mowing. Then I took her and her coffee can on a walk out to a big nearby (but not too nearby!) field that never gets mowed and that people avoid. Right after her release I took this photo, which shows her true color and her little yellow-bodied babies a lot better, and wished them happy trails as she scurried off to check out her new digs...

22 comments:

  1. I find spiders fascinating. And your wolf spider and babies are stunning. When spiders come into our home I scoop them up and take them outside. Himself, if I am not around drowns them in fly spray - which he knows I disapprove of. Vehemently. There is no justice though - last year I felt something on my hair in the shower. I reached up to pull it off - and was fanged by a white-tail spider. I was lucky and had no ill effects (they can cause necrosis). The spider was less lucky and dropped dead. I am obviously toxic - to spiders at least.
    Have a wonderful, wonderful vacation.

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    1. I had a feeling you might be first in the comment line on this one, due to both the subject matter and the crazy unusual hour (for me) that I posted it! :-) Good for you for being kind to spiders. No need to take their presence in our homes as a personal affront worthy of the death penalty! I spent 10 minutes the other day catching a fly in my window and escorting him/her outside (with a sternly worded admonishment to STAY outside, thank you very much!) :-) I remember your post about that spider bite you suffered in the shower, and you're right - there is no justice sometimes. I'm really glad you suffered no ill effects - I know how venomous some critters in your neck of the world can be! Had to LOL over your toxicity to spiders. :-)

      Thank you! Poor BW had to work till almost 9:30 last night and is aching from neck to toe (I'm the one who woke up with a headache this morning, so between us we had the entire body covered), but we need to make our final cleaning/mowing/packing push today so we can leave before the crack of dawn this morning. I'm grateful to my wolf spider friend for not chomping on me, I'd hate to have started our much-anticipated vacation with a painful spider bite!

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  2. That is so sweet. Good luck to her in her new home!

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    1. Good to see you again! I'm hoping I found her some perfect real estate to raise her family. :-)

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  3. You are brave. Spiders make me shudder though I'm less spooked by them since my husband started photographing them. Macro shots show the amazing patterns and colours they have. Nice to see the babies, though- it seems that wolf spiders don't have the hundreds of babies that other spiders have - or are these just the survivors? I shall have to research . . .
    Have a lovely holiday.

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    1. It is amazing how one's perspective can change when, well, your perspective changes! Macro photos of insects and arachnids are amazing! Have you ever seen the amazing documentary Microcosmos? If not, run, don't walk, to your nearest film source and watch it with your husband!

      I will be curious to hear what you find out about the number of babies they have, because I wondered the same thing. All I could find out in the limited time I had was that they carry their egg sac with them - no mention that they also carry their babies once hatched!

      Thank you for your visit, your comment, and your holiday wishes! :-)

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  4. I saw a wolf spider mom with babies when I was a kid and was impressed then and still am. Great pics! :-)

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    1. I can sure understand why! This was the first one I'd ever seen in person, and I was impressed as hell!! :-) You're compliment is undeserved, I wasn't very pleased with the photo quality - but thank you anyway, you're too kind! :-)

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  5. I don't mind spiders and could never kill one, mozzies however.....
    Jane x

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    1. Mosquitoes do make peaceful co-existence difficult, I agree. We don't have many here (we had NONE at our home on the mountain!), and they don't tend to enjoy my garlicky Italian blood (lol) so I don't often find myself in conflict with them, but when I do I try to flick them off rather than squash them. Sometimes though my automatic reaction is faster than my higher consciousness and I smack them into the Non-Physical Realm without thinking. I wouldn't mind them so much if they weren't so efficient at carrying very nasty diseases. I try to remind myself that they are a main food source for bats, birds and dragonflies - all of whom I love and admire, so I'd hate to rob them of a meal! :-)

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  6. It seems that wolf spiders can have anything from 100-300 babies so it's likely most of your spiderlings' siblings didn't survive. Maybe they ate each other . . .

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    1. I think it would have been hard for her to carry that many babies on her back! So either these are the lone survivors (I'd like to think the attrition rate among baby wolf spiders isn't THAT high!), or freeloaders who refuse to leave the nest, or their mama's Chosen Ones. :-)

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  7. Wow, Laurie, how cool!! I've heard of wolf spiders but have never seen one. They're huge! Quite the find while you were mowing and I'm glad you saw her, granting her safe passage along with a ride to a nice area. I love that she had her babies on her back, too.

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    1. The same was true of me till last evening! She was definitely ginormous! I'm glad I bent down to get that weed, because she might have gotten caught in my next pass with the lawnmower (although they are very fast - if they know to move out of the way in time!) Her children riding piggy back was pretty cool, wasn't it? :-)

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  8. Wow.....what a monster! Glad your hand wasn't too close, because they do bite! Beautiful photos and I'm glad you kept her safe ;-).

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    1. She was formidable, alright! I'm glad my hand wasn't too close too! Thanks for the compliment, Spudly Do-Right! And I'm glad too. :-)

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  9. I've had some close encounters with wolf spiders but have never photographed any. Once in a rustic campground "bathroom" I glanced down and there was one on the wall beside my foot. I didn't scream but I was mighty disturbed.

    I'm pretty sure my eek would have been a bit louder than yours if I were about to "uproot" one.

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    1. I think I'd have vocalized my alarm at seeing a huge spider by my bare foot in a campground "bathroom!" You were very brave. So maybe you wouldn't have "eeked" at all! At least I was able to move away quickly, you were kind of trapped with your arachnid friend!

      I was pulling more bindweed yesterday and startled another big spider from her lair - this one was different, though - brown with a sort of racing strip design on her back and though large, quite a bit smaller than the wolf spider. She scuttled away too quickly for me to get a photo or a good enough look to be able to identify her, but you can bet I'm being watchful during my weed-pulling project!

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  10. I am willing to co-habitate with most spiders within reason. We always have some living in our basement and for the most part, I leave them alone. But those are the cute nickel sized versions that I figure keep other bugs out of my home so I'm OK.

    This gal however would NOT have been afforded lodging in my home - YIKES! However, given her willingness to pose and to stay put for such a long time, your capture of her and eventual relocation to a better home sounds like the perfect solution. I'm not sure I'd have been brave enough to do it - bravo for you!!

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    1. I don't know - a single Charlotte on steroids spider might be all you need in your basement to take care of other bugs! I'm glad wolf spiders are not poisonous (I wouldn't have been nearly as brave if they were!), but they do look intimidating! Hopefully she's made a cozy home for herself in her new surroundings by now.

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  11. Who's afraid of Charlotte Wolf? Not I! Not you either! Spectacular photos amid the rescue op! ;)

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    1. Ha, "Charlotte Wolf" - clever!! :-)

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • INFERNO ~ Dan Brown
  • MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD & EVIL ~ John Berendt
  • MY NOTORIOUS LIFE: A NOVEL ~ Kate Manning
  • ONE SUMMER: AMERICA, 1927 ~ Bill Bryson
  • QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING ~ Susan Cain
  • THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL ~ Daniel Stashower
  • THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY ~ Erik Larson
  • THE SHADOWS, KITH AND KIN ~ Joe R. Lansdale
  • THE TIPPING POINT ~ Malcolm Gladwell
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"