Monday, October 18, 2010

Knaves and Thieves in the Spider Realm

I'm going to have to start carrying a camera with me all the time, not just most of the time if I want to catch dramas like this morning's great fly theft.

This morning, I went out to take out the trash and heard some buzzing. There was a fly caught in a web by the fence. A light-colored spider was trying, somewhat inefficiently to subdue it (At least, it was much slower than Cousin Sal's wrapping the bee had been). Over to the left, a smaller, much smaller spider, with similar markings was running up and down a thread, starting toward his/her bigger cousin and then aborting. The bigger spider was about 1/4 inch long, the smaller one the size of a pinhead.

That was interesting enough, but then a third spider appeared from the right. This one was the same size as the first spider but had darker legs. It came about halfway to the first, light-legged spider and plucked hard at the web. Light-spider kept on paying attention to the now-silent fly. Dark-legs plucked again. Light-legs ignored matters and kept on with the fly. Dark-legs ran all the way down to the spider, on the other side of the web and got kicked for his/her troubles, Light-legs still focused primarily on the fly, which she kept fussing with, though not wrapping.

She walked a little way away and dark legs dashed down and pulled at the web, hard. A tug-of-war ensued. Dark-legs won and began to carry the fly away.

I raced back for my camera and caught some of the rest.

Dark-legs took the fly to his right hand corner. Light-legs at first seemed resigned and began to wander around. Mending the web, perhaps? If so, I would have a better idea for certain whose the fly really was (after all, I had not seen the fly caught; perhaps Light-legs was the intruder).

But, no, after a bit of wandering, Light-legs oriented herself and marched up to the right-hand corner where Dark-legs had disappeared with the fly. There was a bit of kicking, and then all went still. I couldn't see behind the trellis, no matter how I tried, so I have no idea if one spider chased the other off, or killed the other, or if both settled down to share the fly, or if this was all a prelude to some domestic bliss, or what was going on.

The trellis remained stubbornly silent after this, and it started to rain, so I came in.

The pin-sized spider? He hung around on the left for a while and then gave up and tucked himself away behind the trellis on that side.

Light legs

Dark-legs takes the fly.

The fly vanishes.

Light-legs heads upward.

She is determined to get the fly back.

Some threshing legs stick out.

And all is silent.

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