Sunday, August 14, 2011
She Could Be Charlotte, But We Call Her Marge
Yesterday we discovered an old friend living on a lavender plant. It's not that we are fond of spiders, but this one's markings are unique. That must be a portrait of TV character Marge Simpson on the spiders back. Argiope aurantia is the proper name of this creature but for us it is a Marge Simpson spider. I believe that this one still has some growing to do. We have seen much larger specimens later in the fall.
A picture of the underside reveals the spider's dental equipment. Two large fangs are ready to seize and hold prey. We have read that this spider eats its web every night spinning a new one each morning. It is not our habit to go out peering about after dark with a flashlight searching for spiders so no verification of the web eating habit will be forthcoming here. The zipper in the web is another special feature of this spider.
Several years 's ago we found an Argiope aurantia living in the tall weeds that always seem to border our garden. A description of the insect was shared with a science teacher. He was killing and mounting bugs at the time and was interested in adding this spider to his collection. Armed with an old mayonnaise jar, he surveyed his prey from a safe distance. Both the size and color of the spider prompted a comment. Screwing up all of his courage, Mr. Science moved on the spider. In a flash the spider dropped safely to the ground and the teacher flew from the tall weeds. It is amazing how far a man can move without touching the ground given sufficient motivation. This spider is safe. We will move through the garden respecting its present home. A sweet scented lavender plant is such a nice place to raise a family.