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Archive for the 'Spiders' Category

Spiders: Did a spider catch this bird in its web?

Starling and spider webs. Photo by Gloria Crim, Crockett, CA.
starling web, gloria crim, crockett

Gary:
I have enjoyed your column for a long time and now I need your expertise to answer a question that presented itself in my front yard in Crockett.  Actually it was my grandkids who brought this to my attention.  They asked me the question and I couldn’t come up with the answer … Grandmothers really don’t know EVERYTHING!

I have attached photos of a dead bird caught in a spider web in a tree outside my front fence. What kind of spider in our area can weave a web so strong that it will capture a good-sized bird and hold it til it dies? Scary scene … especially for the super-active imagination of two kids! Thank you in advance for your input.
Gloria Crim @ home in Crockett, Calif.
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Posted on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
Under: Birds, Life, Spiders | 1 Comment »

Halloween: Check out Wally’s Jack-O-Lantern Spider!

Jack-O-Lantern Spider photo by Wally Wood, Livermore, CA
Jack-o-lantern spider w.wood

Gary:
I’d like to share with your readers my special garden lady, “Ms. Spinneret.” She is a beautiful pumpkin orange and if you look closely at her back you will see she has a Jack-O-Lantern face, ready for Halloween.

Trick-or-treat, anyone?
Wally Wood, Livermore, CA

Wally:
Beautiful! A Jack-O-Lantern Spider!

What will Mother Nature think of next?! /Gary

Ms. Spinneret, sitting on her web, comes with a built-in fly swatter
fly swatter w.wood

Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Under: Halloween, Spiders | No Comments »

Spider photo: Come into my parlor, said the spider to the …

Spider and prey by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, Calif.
spiderfly1

Dear Gary:
While checking native bees out in the flowers I noticed some really nice looking spider webs, saw a large bee fly into one, roll around and escape. While waiting for more bees to show up I saw this guy wrapping up a catch to eat at a later time. With a macro lens set up, that tiny world looks very large. This kind of thing is very fun to “explore” in the small world of native insects.
Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek

Dear Brian:
Come into my parlor, said the spider to the … /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2009
Under: Spider web, Spiders | No Comments »

It’s tarantula time on Mount Diablo

TARANTULA PHOTO BY RAY MENGEL
diablo tarantula3

If you’d like to get a look at a tarantula in the wild, now is a good time to go for a pleasant hike on Mount Diablo. The mountain is one of the best places in the Bay Area to see these giant spiders.

Just be careful when driving up the mountain … there could be a lot of tarantulas crawling on or across the road. (Brake for tarantulas!)
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Posted on Wednesday, October 15th, 2008
Under: Mount Diablo, Spiders, Tarantulas | 4 Comments »

Got ants in your pants? Don’t worry, you soon will!

In what sounds like a low budget horror film, voracious swarming ants that apparently arrived in Texas aboard a cargo ship are invading homes and yards across the Houston area.

The hairy, reddish-brown critters are know as “crazy raspberry ants” — crazy, because they wander erratically instead of marching in lines like normal ants, and “raspberry” after Tom Raspberry, an exterminator who fought them early on.

“They’re itty-bitty things about the size of fleas, and they’re just running everywhere,” said Patsy Morphew, who is constantly sweeping them off her patio and scooping them out of her pool by the cupful. “There’s just thousands and thousands of them.”
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Posted on Friday, May 16th, 2008
Under: Fish, Insects, Invasive species, Spiders | No Comments »

Once upon a spider

I’m sitting on the back deck of a little log cabin at about 7,000 feet or so in the High Sierra in Hope Valley, California, about 20 miles south of Lake Tahoe. I’m getting ready to read a book.

Unknown to me, there’s a single, 2-foot strand of spider web stretched tight between two slender branches of an aspen tree that’s growing near my knee. As the afternoon sun drops lower in the sky and becomes partly hidden by an enormous juniper, a stray beam of sunlight escapes and bounces off the web and suddenly I see the bright band of web sizzling between the two branches.

How does a little spider spin a web between two isolated branches like that? If I was the spider the branches would be hundreds of yards apart.

As the sun moves lower it unexpectedly illuminates hundreds of other strands of web blowing out from branches and twigs in all the other trees. It’s like instant spider webs, everywhere. Amazing.

I bend closer to one and see a yellow speck with microscopic legs on one end of the web — a tiny spider. Armed with that knowledge, I begin to see other tiny yellow spiders at the ends of the other blowing webs. And that’s how they stretch a web from one far-away branch to another. Swinging in the air on a web fastened to one aspen branch and spinning and reeling out web until the tiny yellow spider is carried along by the wind to finally brush against another aspen branch. It quickly fastens (glues) the web tip to the new branch and now it has an anchored cable of web it can use to build a net between the two aspen branches so it can snare tiny insects for dinner when they fly by.

As the sun moves lower, the light begins to reflect off of hundreds maybe thousands of zipping, zooming, swooping, diving insects in air spaces between the trees that moments before appeared to be empty. A startling metamorphosis.

It’s an amazing place, the High Sierra. It’s all so very much alive. There’s a lot of activity in this high thin air above 7,000 feet. It’s another world that you can only see if you look for it, and of course when the light from the afternoon sun is just right.

Mother Nature has her little secrets, but she’s willing to share them with her friends if we’re patient enough to wait for them to magically appear.

My book is still unopened on my lap.

Posted on Monday, August 21st, 2006
Under: Spider web, Spiders | 2 Comments »