Thursday, December 01, 2005

Orb Weavers?

This past summer (it seems so far away now), a Phippsburg resident found a very strange construction in a local tree. The nearest that the folks at Maine Nature News could assess is that the white ball is the work of an orb-weaver spider. Pretty interesting stuff! And a pretty weird looking thing to find in your tree (see photo via link). [NOTE: If you check out their main page you will find great photo-illustrated current articles and links to local webcams. Good stuff.] has this to say about Famous Orb Weavers:
"Some orb weavers are influential enough to make history. One such spider was the inspiration of E. B. White's Charlotte's Web. Charlotte, who spun her webs in Maine, was an Araneus cavaticus, sometimes called a "Barn Spider". (NOTE: Not all barn spiders are A. cavaticus; there are several species of spiders that are commonly called barn spiders.)" While you're on their site, be sure to look at the photos of some of the crazy-looking variations of the breed. Some are quite scary looking, though harmless.

Maine has an interesting variety of buggity-boos, and recent rumors include statements from Olive Garden staff members about black widows arriving in tomato shipments, replete with warning notices for employees to be on the lookout. Other establishments have had similar problems, from all reports.

Ahhh, I love a good rumor. Also, I love spiders, scary or not. They eat up a lot of the other insects that are far more pesky. This past summer seems to have been a bumper one for our arachnid neighbors. There were more webs strung around my apartment building, including across stairways and between cars and the side of the house, than I have ever seen before, and they were BIGGER than I've ever seen before, as were the grey and brown fuzzy eight-leggers that were astride them, and stronger (which can be an issue when it's 2 in the morning and you find a web wrapped around your face).


Chris said...

You've reminded of the spiders that inhabited our barn and woodshed when I was a kid. They'd string their webs across the doorways to ensure I'd get a faceful every time I passed. My #1 fear as a kid was having one of those enormous gray spiders land in my hair.

Yeah, yeah, I'm an organic gardener, so I know their benefits. But they still give me the willies.

sean said...

I did battle with no less than 30 giant spiders this summer at my girlfriend's parents' place in Rangeley. They were huge and TOUGH. High-pressure hosing was of little use. I think one had a live kitten wrapped up in the web.
We had to reclaim the porch, though.

Michelle said...

Darn TOOTIN' you needed to reclaim the porch. What is a Maine summer without a porch to sit on???