Along came a spider and…

“Along came a spider and sat down beside her…”

close up photography of spider web
Photo by chivozol on Pexels.com

Now that Hurricane Florence has scooted up to New England, the Piedmont of NC is getting back to some semblance of normalcy. We were fortunate to have been spared the brunt of the storm (unlike those in southeastern NC and along the coast) – only about 8 inches of rain here over the four days as well as some flooding after her last big rain dump on Sunday and Monday. We’re feeling lucky – and grateful.

So, this morning we decided to take a hike (YEA!) – if we could find a trail that was not under water. That actually proved to be a challenge as all NC state parks are currently closed. Some roads were closed, too, as we tried to get to other trails, and the local Triangle Land Conservancy’s nature preserves had their gates closed and locked due to rains and high water. We finally settled on an open section of Duke Forest behind the NC Forestry office near Hillsborough, and the first thing we noticed was all the spider webs wrapping us up in sticky strands!

Fall is spider season, of course, when all the spiders that were babies in the spring (having emerged from the egg sacs their parents built to protect them through the winter) have grown up to be big and strong, and are just so much easier to see now. This is also the time of year when many spiders are out looking for mates, and those beautiful webs are part of the mating process. The females build webs to catch prey, but also to attract males.

We found some amazingly beautiful orb-weaver spiders (which my cell phone camera does not do justice to) and watched them in fascination as they built and repaired webs all along the edges of the trails and woods.

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This orb weaver was building a web with guy wires from the ground to leaves and limbs 8 feet away. We watched her attach one end to a leaf then, drop to the ground and attach an end, then climb up and to the left to arrange webbing between leaves, then back to the center.
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This lady had captured – and was feasting upon – a grasshopper/katydid meal.

We also found a few spiders hiding among the leaves and tree branches, some being good mothers and guarding their egg sacs.

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“You can’t see me. I am the leaf.”
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I know this is a fuzzy picture of the spider, but you can see she is guarding her egg sac among the cedar leaves.

I’ve seen some other pretty awesome spiders in other places during the past few weeks as well, like this cool, green lynx spider…

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Lynx spider guarding her egg sac on a Lobelia flower

I used to be deathly afraid of spiders. Once, when I was a teen, I discovered a fat orb-weaver dragging along behind me, attached by her web in my living room. I screamed bloody murder and nearly tore up the house trying to get away from her. I’ve gotten over that fear by spending time watching spiders from a distance, taking pictures of them, enjoying their incredible feats, and admiring their perseverance and determination. They are good subjects for practicing mindfulness.

As long as they aren’t crawling on me, I’m good! Enjoy your fall spiders, where ever you are.

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