Spider Season

Marbled Orb Weaver

I know it is truly autumn when I can’t walk more than a few steps in my yard without getting a face full of spider web. The eight-legged ones are everywhere. Females grow fatter daily, full of growing eggs. As the hunger of the females grows, so does the size of their webs. I managed to see this beauty before I walked into the web she was rebuilding. A shaft of early morning sunlight had caught her, accentuating her lovely colors. Marbled Orb Weavers are shy; they spend most of their time hiding in leaves at the edge of their webs, appearing only when a victim is ensnared. But every morning, they dismantle the web from the previous day and spin a fresh one. She was so intent on her weaving that I was able to photograph her.

Wolf spider with egg sac

This mother wolf spider was also on the move that morning. She was not interested in posing for photos, but I managed this shot. I listened to a great presentation on North Carolina spiders this week by Dr. Matt Bertone, an entomologist from North Carolina State University. Dr. Bertone’s enthusiasm for his subject was apparent, and I was touched by his gentle pleas — several times — to appreciate spiders, respect their work, and view them as the allies they are. “Spiders are very good mothers, ” he said. They defend their egg sacs and their new-born spiderlings with their lives. 

Green lynx spider with egg sac

I named this green lynx spider Lana, because she lives on a massive blooming lantana that grows beside my front door. I’ve been watching her and two other of her kind for two months. Rudi lived in the Rudbeckia lacianata, guarding her egg sac as Lana is doing above, until one day she and her eggs disappeared. Verna is still alive and well and guarding her egg sac in a Vernonia. Both Verna and Lana grow smaller daily. Dr. Bertone mentioned that they don’t eat after they produce their eggs, because they will not leave them unguarded for even a moment. It is a little hard for me to watch these once vibrantly green, plump spiders visibly shrinking in size, paler in color. Every day, I exhort Lana’s egg sac to open, hoping that if the spiderlings emerge, Lana might take time to eat. 

Writing spider

This writing spider also lives in the lantana by the door. It is a very large lantana, and there is plenty of room for these predators to share numerous pollinators attracted to its brightly colored abundant blooms. I have named this spider Agatha. I occasionally feed her a milkweed bug, if I find one sucking the life out of a ripening swamp milkweed pod. She allows me to sit beside her in the sun while I rattle on about writing (she is a writing spider after all), and life, and death. 

I find myself struggling these days to find words that adequately describe the roller coaster ride of emotions pulling at me. But when I start to flail, I step out my front door, take a seat beside the lantana where Agatha and Lana dwell, and practice breathing deeply. Agatha and Lana remind me to live in the moment, not the what-ifs, to live to ensure future lives by being a good mother to all my green children, to appreciate the beauty that surrounds me.

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  1. #1 by Diane Stallings on October 18, 2020 - 9:19 pm

    Thank you for reminding all of us to live in the present and cherish all our green children! Diane

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. #2 by Donna Deal on October 19, 2020 - 3:10 am

    I love watching spiders! Thanks for helping me learn more about them. Your photos are amazing. I love to photograph them, too, but need a better camera:)
    Hang in there! Life is serving up big doses of growth opportunities, but it’s not easy. The spiders are a good metaphor for our focus on home life, and the season.

  3. #4 by Julie on October 19, 2020 - 6:54 am

    Lovely writing to enjoy with my breakfast this morning. Thank you so much.

    • #5 by piedmontgardener on October 19, 2020 - 6:58 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Julie — and for the compliment. 🙂

  4. #6 by Caroline Thorsen on October 19, 2020 - 1:11 pm

    They are such fascinating creatures

  5. #8 by Julie Higgie on October 19, 2020 - 6:43 pm

    Beautiful and touching article! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and love of nature!
    Julie H.

    • #9 by piedmontgardener on October 19, 2020 - 7:12 pm

      Thanks, Julie, for your kind words. I don’t know about the wisdom part, but I won’t pretend I don’t love my green world. 🙂

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