Maitri Libellule

"The golden silk orb-weavers (genus Nephila) are a genus of spiders noted for the impressive webs they weave. Nephila consists of numerous individual species found around the world. They are also commonly called golden orb-weavers, giant wood spiders or banana spiders. In North America, the golden silk orb-weavers (see also Nephila clavipes) are sometimes referred to as writing spiders due to occasional zigzag patterns (stabilimenta) built into their webs, though these occur much more frequently in the webs of Argiope..."

~ From Wikipedia ~

My favorite summer spider, the Argiope, which I've always called "Zipper Spiders" because of the distinctive zipper down the middle of her web. I just cannot imagine how she makes that and it is so astonishing beautiful if you see them in person, you will never forget it. I have these all over my garden in the late summer and we co-exist quite happily and I'm honored that she finds safety and solace in my garden. To see the babies emerge later is precious beyond compare...

If you had told me a spider was ANYWHERE near me when I was little, I would have gone into a screaming fit running for my life. As a young married woman if a teensy little spider was walking across the ceiling, I could not go to bed and would shriek wildly for my husband to come and get it. I would be near hysterical saying, "It's going to fall on me, it's going to FALL on me."

My husband was good about getting them, but he'd always kind of chuckle as he left the room saying, "Spiders don't just FALL on you..." Perhaps it was just taking an evening stroll, but to this day I don't like a spider creeping across the ceiling over my bed.

I've never seen, thank God, a brown recluse spider and may have seen a black widow outside once, but they've no interest in me and try to hide from me. I think I heard one say, "Dear Lord, stay away from that woman, she's a big freaking idiot and will break your eardrums just before you are caught in a jar and put out. It's just not worth it..."

I have gained a bad reputation with spiders.

Then came the day, after putter-gardening (You know, a little flat of pansies or something stuck in a barrel), that I became a REAL gardener. I have spent 2 decades studying horticulture, botany and outdoor creatures. In one quarter acre garden where I planted 60 roses and every kind of annual, perennial, flowering bush and tree, I became quite used to finding very large garden spiders. I must admit to being a little alarmed at first but they weren't bothering me and I wasn't bothering them. They were just living their Garden Spider-ish life and I was just sitting in my chair studying up on planting rare seeds and where the best place would be, micro-climate wise. Then, came the day I first saw the Argiope (zipper) spider. Well, I mean they are BIG. Quite large indeed. And instead of running I stood mesmerized by her beauty. A black and yellow spider, with very long legs, building not just a very large web but one with a zipper, plain as day, going straight down the middle of her web (see picture above.). From that day forward I fell in love with them and looked for their summer arrival. We've had them all over the place and stood entranced as she worked on her web, a true work of art.

Well, the last couple of years here in the Carolinas everyone has been all abuzz about "The Banana Spider." My daughter, who has always been terrified of spiders, said, with a shudder, "Ew, they are all over the neighbor's yard." Well, that got me, I was fascinated. I kept meaning to come home and look them up to see and read about them, but when I get home from anywhere I am met by a big black dog and 4 puggish little people hurling themselves at me like they were sure I had left them FOREVER and they were CERTAIN that they weren't going to survive, and then 6 parrots all start chattering and screeching and by the time I get 11 little hooligans taken care of, dogs out and in, all I can manage is to flop in the chair and breathe.

A couple of days ago I found, in my yard, and slanting backwards away from me, the largest spider web I have ever seen. Attached to a big bush, a little bush, and a tree, many feet away. That is the most beautiful and intricately woven web I have ever seen. I stood absolutely still without so much as breathing and just gawked. I am a weaver, you see, and I will never get over the spider's web, a truly beautiful won. And of course the Native American weavers from centuries back have told stories about Grandmother Spider, also Grandmother Spiderwoman, who wove the web of the world, and is sort of the patron saint of weavers. Now, when I see a spider out of doors I feel very protective.

So I've been going out to watch her progress and I imagine she's gearing up for babies, because she eats like a horse. Yesterday I watched her catch a bumble bee, do him in, and this morning he is rolled in the white filament that insects, too busy bumbling about to realize what is about to seal their fate, fly right into a spider's web. I swear, I think a lot of them need glasses with the predicament they get themselve into. That bee is supper and it's too bad, but the big spider looked quite pleased with herself. And yes, she is a Banana Spider.

I love that they are also called "Golden Silk Orb Weavers," and when I read that they are also called "Writing Spiders" I just giggled like a ten year old. I am a weaver and a writer. This spider and I are somehow related. And watching her build that giant web is just utterly fascinating.

So here I've been, communing with my Banana Spider whom I call Betty, and there were workmen outside yesterday and I caught one of them throwing something in Betty's direction. I rushed out the door like a madwoman (People just love to ruin their carefully woven webs, preparing for their babies, and woebetide the person who makes the mistake of doing it in front of me, and to Betty of all things!) flailing my arms about in a ridiculous manner and said, "Did you throw something at her??? YOU LEAVE MY SPIDER ALONE!!!" I think I'da jumped one of them and smashed him on the ground if he'd have hurt her or her web. Luckily, my crazy act scared the men so badly they left in a hurry, with Betty and I chuckling in the dust they left behind them. I told Betty she was doing just fine and I'd run the hooligans off.

Now I keep checking on her. I have become fiercely protective of all the creatures outside who inhabit my little corner of the world. When I moved in here I was warned about working outside making my garden because there was a BIG TERRIBLE SNAKE OUT THERE and all of the neighbors were terrified of it. Everyone had seen it and it apparently liked living around my place. Well, I gardened in ever nook and cranny and never saw this BIG SCARY SNAKE anywhere. I kept getting warned. They were a-feared for my very life. So I started asking questions, "What does it look like, how big is it, etc?") By now, I was imagining horrific poisonous snakes dangling from trees like in the amazon jungle. Turns out, I realized, after talking at length to my neighbors, that it was just a common black snake who not only is not poisonous, they do good things out there, and them don't come chasing you down to kill you at the first opportunity.

Now, mind, I still don't want a spider to "fall" on me, but I've said this outside and heard spiders laughing at me everywhere. I think I heard one particularly rude spider say something along the lines of, "Does she really think we'd want to fall on HER?" I think it shuddered.

In any event, you'd better stay out of my yard and away from my spiders or I shall have to TAKE STEPS. You don't want me to TAKE STEPS because with my feet taking a step has often propelled me through space and I'd probably fall on YOU and flatten you. Spiders don't fall, people do...

Maitri, spider protector and champion of other outside creatures, even the fire ants that we have here in the south which you surely want to stay clear of, but you've got to admire their diligence...

4 Responses
  1. I wanted to stop in earlier and tell you how mystifying these wonderful images are. I like you respect the spider for it's wonderful help in controlling other nasty little unwanted bugs.

    I always leave them be outside so they can weave their webs and catch flies and mosquitoes.

    I have never had a great fear of spiders. Now of course I don;t want them on me. But, generally as a rule I leave them alone.

    I am taking advantage of everyone's drop in prices and grabbing some ads on all of your blogs. I do so hope that will be okay.

    I love your blogs and simply love to be on them!!

    I hope you have a glorious evening! As always you are in my thoughts and I send much love and warm hugs!

  2. Just a piece of totally random, useless information - but interesting, just the same. Earlier today, my son was telling me that his science teacher, who apparently is like THE Mr Bug/Spider Man, told him we're never any further than 5 feet away from a spider. Kind of freaks me out, but what can you do. Like you, I'm just glad the ceiling is more than 5 feet above my bed! ;) xx

  3. We have a few zipper spiders around the backyard, they are pretty and harmless. But they love to put their webs right where I want to do something.
    It is mildly inconvenient having to avoid disturbing them, but what can you do.

  4. Dear Mother Maitri,
    I am still spell bound by these beautiful spiders!! Oh I do so hope I can get up early one morning after a heavy dew and find some and get some pictures like these!!

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Love,peace and hugs always and ever!

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