Monday, August 9, 2004


Yesterday while Liam and Grady were napping, Colleen and I enjoyed some quiet time in the backyard after having done a bunch of yardwork. I love how the lawn and plants look after a couple hours of work. Anyway, during a well-deserved beer cool down, I went and looked at our boulder wall. Between two of the boulders, I discovered an intricate web, so dense it was opaque. It was horizontal to the ground, and further back in the rocks there was a webbed funnel where I saw a VERY quick medium-sized spider run back into. Right above the web, there is a flowering bush that was attracting large bumble bees.

I wanted to feed this spider to see it in action, so I built up some courage and grabbed a bumble bee by its wings while it collected pollen. I threw it in the web, but I threw it too hard and it broke a hole into the web. I found an ant and threw it in there. WHAM! That spider moved so fast that the ant wasn't in the web for more than .01 seconds before the spider had injected it with venom. It was amazing. The spider stood above the struggling ant with one leg touching it. When the ant showed signs of strength, the spider bit it again. The fun thing was that the spider didn't wrap it in silk to store, but carried it in its mouth down the funnel. Ugh.

I wasn't done there. I wanted to see a struggle, so I managed to capture a yellow jacket in a dixie cup and put him in the web. Wow, was that a good idea! The bee got tangled up in the web, and the spider must have had to let go of the ant before jumping into action because it took a couple of seconds before it attacked the bee. It was struggling so much, I don't know how the spider was able to jump on its back and avoid its stinger. The spider bit the bee a few times and the bee slowed down. The spider then quickly ran around the bee trying to contain it with silk. I thought the stuggle was over, but the bee gained enough strength to escape.

OK, this was getting addictive. I caught another big bumble bee and managed to throw it down into the funnel! The spider jumped into action quickly, but I think it was more of a defensive move than a predatory one, because the bumble bee seemed to be carried out of the funnel, then flew away. I'm sure the spider was feeling smug, thinking his web was attracting such action.

No comments: