Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Dangerous Dark

I walk around outside my house all the time in the dark.  If the neighbors could see me I know they'd think I'm insane because most of the time I have one hand up in front of my face as I'm walking.  This is why:


I don't know the name of these spiders, but they are fat brown squatty looking things that build a new web every night. They have nice webs and it's kind of impressive that they do all that work every day. They like to hang their webs out in the middle of an open space where you never expect a spider could put a web. They're sneaky that way. Sometimes the anchor lines are ten feet long.  They almost always hang them with the center about 5 feet above the ground which is face level for me.

Many times I have wrapped one of the webs around my head.  I'm pretty sure people in the next county hear me screaming when this happens, even though I scream with my teeth clenched just in case something wants to run in. I'm not fond of spiders and I'm less fond of the webs actually touching me.  One good thing I can say about these spiders is that they run up one of the support lines when something big walks through the web.  I appreciate them not running around on my face, although it doesn't stop the screaming.

This spider hung her web right above my car hood.  I had a nice shot lined up with my cell phone when Scrappy jumped up on the hood and started walking into the web.  You can see the spider is headed for a support line.  Half a second earlier it was smack in the middle of the web.

This time of year I also have a flashlight.  That's because I don't want to step on one of these:

copperhead snake

Click on the photo to go to my flickr page and see it full size.  This is a copperhead snake. I was on the way out to my small gold fish pond one night a few years ago and saw him next to the sidewalk. I was checking the pond for snakes. There wasn't a snake in the pond but there was a huge spider eating one of the fish.

Copperheads are really hard to see in the leaves like this.  When they are coiled up in the leaves their skin makes a rosette pattern. A few nights ago I caught Scrappy and Pawlie playing with one. I heard a crack and Scrappy jumped up about two feet and back about three.  The crack was the snake striking.  Fortunately, Scrappy wasn't bitten.  I called the cats over to me and looked for what they'd been after.  It took several minutes for me to find the snake.  I didn't see it until it started to move slowly away.  

So if you see me walking around the yard at night with one hand up in front of my face, looking at the ground with a flashlight you'll know...I can explain that. 


Kokopelli said...

Teehee, good to know that you didn't go nuts or something!
Here I don't have fish-eating spiders (only fish-eathing cats, my OWN!), but I stopped counting how many times I walked into a spider web and I stopped screaming about that when I was a child. Although I don't love spiders. But they fight the bugs and flies. Thanks for sharing the wildlife in your neck of the woods!

Anonymous said...

OMG I would not go out at night, that's for sure. The two things that scare me more than anything are spiders and snakes! Yikes. I did not know that spiders ate fish??? Good grief, where do you live, in the Amazon????
Marcy (from Adorn Me, Houston)

Leslie Todd said...

Unfortunately I only had the water spiders that one year. And the spider was eating a floater, so he/she didn't actually kill the fish. The water spiders were interesting. They literally walk on the water. Despite my arachnophobia I still find some of the spiders interesting.