Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Spider Byte

Never kill a spider in the afternoon or evening, but always kill the spider unlucky enough to show himself early in the morning, for the old French proverb says:
Araignee du matin--chagrin;
Araignee du midi--plaisir;
Araignee du soir--espior

(A spider seen in the morning is a sign of grief; a spider seen at noon, of joy; a spider seen in the evening, of hope.)
An old proverb cited in A Spider on the Stairs by Cassandra Chan (a full review is up on Bookwyrme's Lair)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Spiders: Still Going Strong

I had thought the recent cold and rain would have finished off the big spiders for the year. There aren't very many around the yard any more, but on a recent visit to the Shipley Nature Center, I found them still busy spinning and still stacking webs, one on top of another, overhead.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Spider Webs in Huntington Beach Central Park

After the rain, the park was full of these sturdy half-webs.

I tried pinging one of the threads to see if I could spot the builder, but I guess I don't know how to sound much like a bug. The owners were pretty clearly up in the bushes with their feet on the doorbell line, but no one answered my knocking. The centers are interesting, very convoluted and angular.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Celebrating Spider Appreciation Day!

Aka Halloween. There are more of these out this year than there have been in the past.

The great big red spider went up the garden wall...

It's waaatching you!

Awww look. It's taking time to smell the allysum.

Even I think this one might be going a little too far. Look at it: It entirely covers that umbrella. We're not quite into Shelob territory here, but we're certainly talking Mirkwood, at the least.

And this is what you'd be walking into, if you had these spiders around.

So maybe this isn't the best way to teach people arachnophilia. I still hope to get a picture of the big, cheerful orange-spider-in-a-wreath. My camera ran out of battery.

And I still like that red-eyed spider (in someone else's yard).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Halloween Spiders

Halloween: The one time of the year when spiders are properly appreciated. In case you can't tell, these spiders have *lights* on them. That twinkle. At night. The one spider glares at you!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Spider: A Russian Fairy Tale

I'm reading a book of Russian fairy tales. I came across this one, and I love it. It's got the spider as the hero! Actually, in the version I first read, the spider is a knight, but "hero bold" will do. It's a tale that properly appreciates the role spiders play and their cleverness. This version comes  from a book of Russian Fairy Tales on the Project Gutenberg site. The rest of the publishing information is below the tale.


The Mizgir [66]

In the olden years, long long ago, with the spring-tide fair and the summer’s heat there came on the world distress and shame. For gnats and flies began to swarm, biting folks and letting their warm blood flow.
Then the Spider[67] appeared, the hero bold, who, with waving arms, weaved webs around the highways and byways in which the gnats and flies were most to be found.

A ghastly Gadfly, coming that way, stumbled straight into the Spider’s snare. The Spider, tightly squeezing her throat, prepared to put her out of the world. From the Spider the Gadfly mercy sought.

“Good father Spider! please not to kill me. I’ve ever so many little ones. Without me they’ll be orphans left, and from door to door have to beg their bread and squabble with dogs.”

[Pg 69] Well, the Spider released her. Away she flew, and everywhere humming and buzzing about, told the flies and gnats of what had occurred.

“Ho, ye gnats and flies! Meet here beneath this ash-tree’s roots. A spider has come, and, with waving of arms and weaving of nets, has set his snares in all the ways to which the flies and gnats resort. He’ll catch them, every single one!”

They flew to the spot; beneath the ash-tree’s roots they hid, and lay there as though they were dead. The Spider came, and there he found a cricket, a beetle, and a bug.

“O Cricket!” he cried, “upon this mound sit and take snuff! Beetle, do thou beat a drum. And do thou crawl, O Bug, the bun-like, beneath the ash, and spread abroad this news of me, the Spider, the wrestler, the hero bold—that the Spider, the wrestler, the hero bold, no longer in the world exists; that they have sent him to Kazan; that in Kazan, upon a block, they’ve chopped his head off, and the block destroyed.”

On the mound sat the Cricket and took snuff. The Beetle smote upon the drum. The Bug crawled in among the ash-tree’s roots, and cried:—

“Why have ye fallen? Wherefore as in death do ye lie here? Truly no longer lives the Spider, the wrestler, the hero bold. They’ve sent him to Kazan and in Kazan they’ve chopped his head off on a block, and afterwards destroyed the block.”

The gnats and flies grew blithe and merry. Thrice they crossed themselves, then out they flew—and straight into the Spider’s snares. Said he:—

“But seldom do ye come! I would that ye would far more often come to visit me! to quaff my wine and beer, and pay me tribute!”[68]
[Pg 70] This story is specially interesting in the original, inasmuch as it is rhymed throughout, although printed as prose. A kind of lilt is perceptible in many of the Skazkas, and traces of rhyme are often to be detected in them, but “The Mizgir’s” mould is different from theirs. Many stories also exist in an artificially versified form, but their movement differs entirely from that of the naturally cadenced periods of the ordinary Skazka, or of such rhymed prose as that of “The Mizgir.”

[66] Afanasief, ii. No. 5. Written down by a crown-peasant in the government of Perm.

[67] Mizgir, a venomous spider, like the Tarantula, found in the Kirghiz Steppes.

[68] In another story bearing the same title (v. 39) the spider lies on its back awaiting its prey. Up comes “the honorable widow,” the wasp, and falls straight into the trap. The spider beheads her. Then the gnats and flies assemble, perform a funeral service over her remains, and carry them off on their shoulders to the village of Komarovo (komar = gnat). For specimens of the Russian “Beast-Epos” the reader is referred (as I have stated in the preface) to Professor de Gubernatis’s “Zoological Mythology.”

The tale is word-for-word and comes from a larger collection of Russian tales. I don't think any of the others feature heroic spiders, though.

Or, to put the license more specifically, as the Project Gutenberg people say it:

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Russian Fairy Tales, by W. R. S. Ralston

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at
Title: Russian Fairy Tales
       A Choice Collection of Muscovite Folk-lore

Author: W. R. S. Ralston

Release Date: August 22, 2007 [EBook #22373]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Really Amazing Spiderweb

Look at how far the spider had to stretch those support lines before she could even begin to spin the web.
And it is a beautiful web as well, truly elegant in construction and function.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I thought I'd take a series of pictures of this spider cleaning out it's web.

I underestimated its efficiency, however. I took this picture, one blurred picture, and the following.
The web was clean in no time at all, and the spider was ready to get back to sleeping and waiting for bugs.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Getting Ready for Halloween: Spiderweb

I thought this was suitable, what with everyone decorating for Halloween and all.

Pretty, too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cellar Spider vs. Silverfish

Or Pholcidae vs. Zygentoma, depending on how you want to look at it.

I spotted this when I was supposed to be making cornbread. The silverfish came out bucking with a very determined spider clinging to its back. The battle in the open didn't last long as the silverfish was very quickly paralyzed. It took the spider a lot longer to pull it up into a temporary web behind the soap dish, though. I think that was partly because I kept changing the light trying to take pictures, so the spider was being cautious about retreating and running forward.

Eventually, however, both were tucked safely behind the dish and under the counter ledge, where I trust the spider got to enjoy a leisurely meal before someone moved the dish.

The cornbread? Yeah, I got it made. Turned out well, too.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Neoscona oaxacensis in Huntington Beach Central Park

Yay! It's the spider time of year again! The park is just full of the big ones now. Today was fairly cloudy, so they were hanging out in plain sight well into the day. At least, I'm assuming that the light level had something to do with it. The Neoscona don't, on the whole, seem to be a particularly shy bunch.

As usual, I owe thanks to the awesome people at bugguide for the identification of the spider as a Neoscona oaxacensis aka the Western Spotted Orb Weaver. It's an utterly harmless sort, related to all the crucifera hanging out in my yard last year (This year, too, I think, though I have to take a closer look at the one by the gate some time when I'm not trying to figure out how to get out without breaking the web (I did end up breaking it yesterday, I confess. I may just have to move him/her if she doesn't start weaving a bit higher up)).

Anyway, back to the oaxacensis.  It is a much showier beastie than  the Neoscona crucifera. The crucifera are all pale golds and tans. This one if flaunting its colors. Just look at all those spots! And the orange and yellow stripes on the legs.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Spider and Sliverfish

For some reason someone cleared this away shortly after I saw it.

I suppose it is kind of odd to let spiders lair behind the kitchen faucet.

But look at her. Isn't she a wonder? I think she may be one of the tiny ones I spotted earlier this year, too. Born and bred at hom!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Spider in the Park

It's fall and the spiders have gotten big enough to photograph again. They're also building bigger webs, often right in the path.

This neoscona crucifera (at least, that's my guess. I also have a question out, as per the usual!) was actually fairly sensible about working to the side of the path. It was the crazy photographer who slogged through the mud for a look.

Isn't he a handsome arachnid?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wolf Spider in Huntington Beach Central Park

The grass in Huntington Beach Central Park was full of bugs. Hundreds and hundreds of bugs flying and running everywhere, with a seemingly never-ending flow of these spiders (I'm pretty sure wolf spiders) hunting through the grass and running across the edges of Talbert Lake after them.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wolf Spider (aka The Wonderful Water-Walking Spider)

I spent quite a while watching this spider sprint across short stretches of water. I was very impressed, and asked on bugguide what sort it was.

A wolf spider.

Really? Ok, yeah, it does look a little bit like the one I saw earlier, a lot like it in fact, but I didn't know that wolf spiders could walk on water. I expressed my surprise.

Oh, came the casual reply. "Just about any spider can run over water."

And I never knew. It's amazing the amount of things one can go through life without noticing.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Phlocidae Mother and Babies

I went to reach for a nursery flat for some of my little plants and saw these. Aren't they lovely?

A close up of one of the babies. Looking at the first photograph, it looks like there's some little exoskeletons down there, so they're not even in their first growth.

And a close-up of the mother. I was hoping she'd do a profile turn for me, but she was more interested in trying to shuffle for the corner.

It's too bad I probably tore the web when I pulled the frame out & left some babies fending for themselves. I tucked these back behind the shed again when I'd finished photographing them. I can wait for the frame.

I've seen lots of other spiders lately while gardening, but it's been all messy gardening with lots of water and mud, the sort you don't take cameras out for.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Funnel Web Spiders

Some old pictures from the fall. I'm not really sure why they didn't publish then.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Badumna longinqua AKA Lace Web Spider

I noticed these because of their webs which were a shape I had not noticed before, a sort of loose lace-like weave spread out over the cacti at the Sherman Gardens.

Naturally, I asked at, and they were quickly identified as Badumna longinqua, also known as Spotted Spiders, and ALSO known as Lace Web Spiders.  They're imports from Australia, it seems, and nasty, though non-lethal, biters.
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Largest Fossil Spider Found!

I'll put a permalink up if I can find it, but today's Yahoo news included information on a large fossil spider. It would be even more fascinating if the spider were supersized, but it's only about as big as today's biggest spiders (big enough to be enormous, but not horror-movie fare).

Oh, and, yes, I have a new pic or two to post soon.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eight Legs

Hm. Well, I was going to go walk out back and photograph spiders, but instead I found myself watching two hours of octopus shows on the Science Channel (The Amazing Octopus and Deep Sea Aliens) and went online to learn that a new octopus species has been discovered.

Ah well. Fascinating, has eight legs, injects a paralyzing poison into the prey, sucks the dissolved flesh out..

No webs, though, and they don't live in my yard (probably just as well).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spider Molting

I was out taking pictures and saw this little beauty molting. Look at that lovely, translucence and the beautiful brown striping

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jumping Spider

This was running up our wall. She wasn't terribly cooperative about posing for pictures, and was almost too small for my camera to deign to notice (about the size of an ant). Still, I got a couple. I'm quite proud of myself for correctly identifying her as a jumping spider (never mind what kind!)

I'm always surprised when I look at the pictures. Many of the spiders that look, to the naked eye, to be completely smooth and shiny turn out to be fuzzy. This one has adorable big eyes as well.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Another Cellar Spider for the House?

Yesterday, I found a delicate little green, long-legged spider dangling from my arm. I thought cellar spiders were usually brown, but in other ways, this resembles the ones I've seen elsewhere, including some delicate etchings on the back.