Friday, August 31, 2007
My Closest Neighbour
Want to meet my closest neighbour? I don't actually know if my neighbour is a he or a her, but I've been calling it "her". I haven't named "her" either, but she has a nice lace-like pattern on her abdomen, so let's call her "Lacey".
Lacey lives about a foot from my nose when I'm on my bunk. I could easily touch her if there were not a pane of glass between us. But if there were not a pane of glass between us I guarantee she would have been relocated long before now!
She started out as a tiny speck, with a body the size of a gnat's. She worked industriously to lay down a fine web which she repairs nightly. Every day she snared a gnat or two, wrapping them in silk before she had her meal. At that point she had no noticeable markings. She was just a spider.
I watched her day by day, as she grew rapidly to the size of a pin-head, and eventually brown and yellow stripes began to appear on her legs.
She hangs upside down in her web, curled somewhat as she naps. But all it takes is the wiggling of an insect in her web and she's instantly alert. Over the weeks she's grown so that her abdomen is the size of a small pea. Her face and eyes are now apparent - yellow face, black sharp eyes. Sort of cute really, if you aren't a fly.
Gnats are now "popcorn" but not much food for a spider her size. When it's been two or three days between substantial meals I begin to worry about her and I confess to dropping swatted flies into her web on several occasions. Okay, I admit I never thought I'd be feeding a spider. Spiders creep me out big time. A small one dropped down onto me from the ceiling a few days ago and brought me bolt upright screaming like a banshee!
Yesterday I gave her a fly which was dead when I found it. She tried it and threw it from the web. Today a fresher specimen was eagerly accepted. She hadn't had a fly for three days and her abdomen was shrunken and flat. She must have been pretty hungry. She had just finished it when a fly was snagged in her web. She pounced on it and wrapped it and the meal continued. She must have thought it was Thanksgiving! Dessert was a gnat.
Tonight she is fat and presumably happy, hanging head down in her web. I wonder how large she will grow? Will she find spidery love and leave a new generation of spiders? Stay tuned. :)