Posts Tagged ‘Arthropods’

baby spiders2

Spiders seem to be everywhere I look these days:  on the beach, along the trail, in the yard and in the house.  Clusters of baby spiders hang from the vines near the front door where they’ll make their home.  In the evenings, they’ll have plenty to eat as insects are attracted towards the front light. 

baby spiders

A fear of spiders, arachnophobia,  is common among humans.  Among phobias, it shares top billing with fears of death and public speaking.  I’ve never understood this fear, as spiders do us such a tremendous service by consuming a large number of insects.  

spider on deck

An ancient myth tells the story of how a maiden with an amazing talent for weaving caught the eye of Athena, goddess of wisdom and skills.  The girl, Arachne, refused to acknowledge her teachers and proudly stated that she was better than everyone, including Athena.  She boldly accepted a challenge to out-weave the goddess.  Though her work was excellent, she used her skill to mock the gods and her defiance cost her dearly.  Her master work was torn to shreds by the angered goddess and she was driven to hang herself in despair.  Taking pity, Athena changed her into a spider so that she and all generations after her could continue their weaving work.

What if, instead of fearing spiders, we saw them as reminders of Athena’s lessons:

  • don’t define yourself by your work, and 
  • the greater your talent and skill, the more important it is to practice humility.

spiders and stones

The story of Arachne can be found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book VI

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lichens on trees

What if there existed something in nature that could gauge air quality?  There is.  Though they have a preference for rough bark, lichens grow on most of the trees here.  Consequently, most of the tree trunks in the woods around my home are a light grey.  This is a good thing, as lichens are bioindicators of high quality air in the environment.  The more three-dimensional the lichens are, the better the air quality.

lichens in woodsLichens are not plants.  They are a mutually beneficial relationship between a fungus and algae.  For more information about this relationship, see my previous post about Lichens.

When it rains, lichens act as a sponge by absorbing as much water as possible.  After the rain stops, they slowly release the water back into the environment.  This process keeps humidity levels in the forest more stable than if the water was simply allowed to fall directly onto the ground.

The three-dimensional properties of lichens also make them ideal places for arthropods to survive.  It’s no wonder then, that birds are especially attracted to tree trunks covered in lichens.  Even chickadees that have access to seed in the winter will consume arthropods for 50% of their diet.

Considering the above benefits, wouldn’t it be helpful to promote lichen growth on trees in the city?

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