“Grandma, how’s my spider? I’ve been crying. I’m worried about her.” was the concerned voice I heard on the phone. What was I thinking getting my granddaughter attached to such a creepy creature? This was the child that just a few weeks before was too scared to open her window to let in evening’s cool air because there was a large Cat Spider in the corner on the outside of the screen. This was the child that had reluctantly helped me relocate a Cat Spider Egg sac to the barn a few months before. This child thought grandma was nuts having named 4 cat spiders the summer before and kept watch on them.
Am I one of those strange people that like spiders? Hardly!! I have been bitten twice by a Black Widow, twice by a recluse, and once by a Hobo spider. The reactions lasted for 2 years or more. So why am I encouraging our 8 year old to bond with one? Because this is the child at 3 years old, who behind my back, chased our rooster and in turn the rooster chased her. At 7, she finally overcame her fear of chickens; at 8, she now hauls them around in her arms. I have found that when you face your fears, you begin to see things as they truly are and prejudice formed, are erased. Life is enriched. If I can help my grandkids see – even spiders – as worthy inhabitants of this world, then maybe I can help them to see their neighbor who does not look like they do, or act like they do as someone to appreciate for who they are, and what they bring to this world.
When we fear, we strike out, and often times it is the innocent that feel the lash of it because fear is often derived from ignorance. Education can then build respect, tolerance, and appreciation. It puts thing in their proper place. So like the fear of the rooster which quickly spread to fear of all chickens, once overcome, becomes a flock of friends whom follow her and she hauls around in her arms. It took 5 years with grandma’s insistence but that effort in turn allowed her to overcome fears in a short while of spiders. From that came a eager attitude to widen her circle of friends in nature.
My granddaughter asked me if it was strange that she felt happy and at peace now having the spider in the corner of her window? I told her no, in a way the spider was watching over her. It kept the bugs in check and I told her to sleep tight knowing the spider worked but never any further than the length of her web. It was like the moon that watched over her and remained in the sky.
But what about those eggs? Well, I had decided a year ago that I should pick a spider to appreciate. This was a year after I had finally quit suffering the effects of the recluse spider bite that left a silver dollar size hole in my stomach and a 4 by 2 inch black narcosis area underneath the skin. I am no saint as house spiders still get the thumb, the shoe, or a tissue and sent into the ‘here after’ but I could start with one.
Each Cat Spider has distinct marking so you can tell them apart.
I chose Cat Spiders. They are big, easy to see, not creepy crawly as they remain in their webs all summer. The females have big fat Disney sized hind-ends and come in a variety of shades of tan to brown to gray with distinct markings unique to each one so you can tell them apart. With the cat ears on their abdomen, they look like they are at a Halloween party. They appear the friendliest of the creepy crawlies. Cat Spiders are in the Orb family and create a circular patterned web. They find a good spot and remain in their web unless the fly population drops too low. With livestock around, now how likely is that – never. They hatch, live their short lives, and die come winter. They are the outdoor spider variety. Did you even know there are indoor and outdoor spiders? Me either until I began to study Cat Spiders.
Spider Egg Sac
Last year I named the four Cat Spiders on the front porch. They were Rhoda, Rhonda, Roxanne, and the small butted male, Romeo. In the Fall, Romeo went about making deposit with the ladies and they in turn stored the sperm to later fertilize their eggs. It was many deposits I suspect as he made the rounds more than once.
Rhoda moved into the garage in the corner next to the door leading outside when the weather became cold and filled a sack with eggs. She stuck around for a few weeks and then disappeared. I kept my eye on the eggs and then late Spring, I scooped the sac onto a Frisbee and had our granddaughter carry it to the barn. To get her to do it, I told her I was taking pictures and would send them to her teacher. She thought grandma was crazy. There we chose a beam and placed them. You see if we have to have spiders, I’d just as soon choose which ones we have the most of and I don’t want them hatching out in my garage.
We have six Cat Spiders attached to our house and 1 on the barn this year that we know of. Our granddaughter keeps a sharp out for them and we verbally thank them for all the flies they catch though I’m sure they have no idea what we are saying. The point is – we do. We are taking the time to appreciate others and their beneficial role in our lives. Even a creature so minute that most people pay no attention to it.
Note Ruzzel’s bumps on her abdomen, these are her cat ears. She is eating a fly.
Last night as we went around taking pictures, the grandkids got excited as they saw Ruzzel hurry over and eat a fly. Typically our Cat Spiders have 10 to 15 flies in their web each day. We check. Multiply 10 times 7 and you have 70 flies less to harass me – 700 in 10 days. Spiders are our natural pest control. They do indeed form an important role and deserve our thanks. How much better would this world be if we each learned to appreciated even the least among us for their contribution to the world. Like my granddaugther, I have many fears yet to face but I’ve learned the precious gifts gained when we do.