Posts Tagged ‘spiders’

Misumena vatia on fading peony

It’s peak season for summer tourists in the garden.  Though the regulars are back, what’s lurking between the leaves and petals may surprise you.  The ghost crab spider found on this fading peony is a splendidly camouflaged ambush hunter. Visual feedback from its many eyes cause its color to change according to its surroundings.

Ghost crab spider lying in wait

Meanwhile, back on the hosta plant, this fly doesn’t seem to be buying the spider’s line… at least not this time.  Perhaps it’s already had its fill of summer romance.

"Come into my parlor" said the spider to the fly.

“Come into my parlor” said the spider to the fly.

A hoverfly is more forward in its approach to the last of the purple spiderworts to bloom.  Although this adult hoverfly is looking for a taste of nectar, in its larval stage it likely ate its share of aphids.

hoverfly and spiderwort

Fresh hydrangea blooms look inviting to a fruit fly in search of sustenance.

fly on hydrangea

Or could this visitor just be looking for a nice quiet place to rest its wings for a moment?

Rhagoletis fly on hydrangea

This fly is focused on the nectar of a yellow St John’s wort.

fly on st johns wort

A recently opened lily already has a visitor walking along a petal towards its inner sanctum.

fly on lily petal

Surely flowers must find the never ending flow of visitors tiring.  But even though they might be tempted to utter ‘Come again when you can’t stay quite so long,’ flowers benefit from insect activity for much of their pollination.  And that’s reason enough to tolerate visitors, even those who prey on other guests.

Ghost crab spider waving goodbye

Ghost crab spider waving goodbye

For more on the crab spider in Canada, see The Nature of the Hill’s Goldenrod Crab Spider post.  Cindy in the Swan Hills of Alberta has also included a cool video from Green Nature. 

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2013

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You may already be aware that nature inspires and refreshes our spirits but did you know that it also influences our speech? Here are a few idioms (words and phrases that hold a special meaning in a given language) that have their roots in the natural world:

A hornet’s nest <Potential trouble> ~ I don’t think anyone would care to poke this nest, even with a ten foot pole.

All that glitters is not gold < Attractive appearances can be deceiving> ~ In this photo of rocks found along the Salt Marsh Trail, it’s pyrite aka fool’s gold.

To mushroom  <To grow or develop at an exponential rate> ~ This enormous shelf fungus seems to be growing more quickly than normal on a decaying tree in my yard.  It’s about a foot in width, an unusual find in my neck of the woods.

Thanks to Karma at Karma’s When I Feel Like It Blog  who challenged her readers to use photographs to illustrate three idioms from the English language.  A photo showing ‘Hallowe’en’ was also part of her request.  To me, Hallowe’en implies something scary, and to many people, next to death and public speaking, the scariest things on the planet are spiders. 

Living near boggy woods, we have a lot of spiders near our home, especially around Hallowe’en.  Sometimes they cross the threshold uninvited and visit us indoors.  This one  is probably the biggest I’ve ever found in the house.  After the photo shoot, it was promptly sent on its merry way outdoors while I cleared out the cobwebs.

If you’d like to participate in Karma’s idiom challenge, you have until October 31st 2011 to do so.

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spider webs

Though mist usually softens details in the landscape, sometimes it reveals that which is often hidden in plain sight.  We might imagine a few spiders living in a wild area, but the actual number boggles the mind when one sees so much evidence of their creativity.  The art work of countless spiders covers this bridge along the Salt Marsh Trail.  Swarms of mosquitoes are often present around the bridges, so the plentiful food supply probably warrants the building of so many webs.

webs on grass

Webs are also found on grasses, trees and other plants.  The tiny droplets of mist outline their delicate framework.

webs on rocks

Webs made of an even finer filament cover the rocks that line the trail.  Each cluster has a tiny hole where the spider can crawl beneath the rocks for shelter in the heat.


How can these spiders survive the tidal surges and flooding that are part of the marsh environment?  It so happens that marsh spiders can survive in the water for up to 36 hours, which is about 12 hours longer than your average woodland spider.  They can also shut down any bodily functions that require air for several hours, which means that even after ‘drowning,’ they are able to come back to life.

The spider shown at left was one of many I saw near the salt marsh behind Silver Sands Beach.  It’s probably similar to those found along the Salt Marsh Trail.

The spiders found in Nova Scotia should be appreciated rather than feared.  These artistic creatures provide a valuable service by consuming so many of the mosquitoes that actually pose a greater threat to our health.

For more on spiders,  see Weaving Wisdom into Nature.

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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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April is a promise that May is bound to keep.

~ Hal Borland


April’s promise of spring has unfolded in a flurry of activity this month.  New growth is everywhere:  in the yard and in the woods.  Strawberry flowers are already in bloom along the Salt Marsh trail.  As much as I look forward to this time of year, it still seems to catch me by surprise.  Did I somehow believe it wouldn’t happen?

Bird activity is constant.   The chatter is especially noisy  in the early morning hours.  It’s not unusual to hear a pheasant crowing in the yard at 3:45 am.  Grackles, doves, woodpeckers, chickadees, juncos, sparrows and robins hang out around the feeder well past our supper time.

The squirrels are either chasing each other around, eating at the feeder or  scolding intruders.  Their presence is made known throughout the day. 

Spider threads and webs are everywhere in the woods, created in anticipation of the black flies and mosquitoes that are surely going to be out in full force soon.  The insects will also provide food for the baby birds soon to be hatched.  

He that is in a towne in May loseth his spring. 

~George Herbert



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