An Eight Legged Summer
This summer seems to be the summer of the spider in Florida. Yes, the sunshine state is home to many, many species of spiders throughout the year, but they seem to be everywhere this summer. My friends and family have noticed that I’m unusually obsessed with the eight legged critters lately. My son has become equally enamoured. We’ve spent a lot of time taking photos of them and researching them online and in books.
We have a regal jumping spider that hides inside her thick, cottony web on our gate and she is very perturbed with us. We know her hiding spot and check on her several times a day. These spiders are considered to have the best eyesight of all bugs. We have one living in our mailbox too. I think I know why they’re called jumping spiders… because they make me jump!
The highly venomous black and brown widows have also made their homes all around our yard. I admire them for a second and then I quickly squish them. There’s not enough room for both of us for obvious reasons. I’ve run across several of them in my garden and I don’t let them out of my sight for a second, not even to get my camera. Their egg sacs are a tell-tale sign that they are close-by. The eggs look like mine bombs… round, light-colored and spiky.
A spider that we are seeing in every square foot of our yard (not really, it just seems that way) is the beautiful and intimidating orbweaver.
The tropical orbweaver weaves her massive web every single evening at dusk and then removes her entire web every morning at dawn. It took us awhile to figure out what she was doing. Since Grayson and I milk the goats late at night, we’ve gotten used to the nocturnal critters, (especially the skunk that the dog keeps bothering). We analyze the spiders every night and try to get as close as we can to get a good look. It’s never comfortable though. All it takes is a quick tap on the arm and a “watch out!” to send me to the moon. Either I get Grayson or he gets me but it always ends with a scream. I know he’s going to do it too and it still scares me. I think we freak these poor spiders out way more than they freak us out.
The garden orbweavers build their webs every morning and take them down for the night. Isn’t that amazing? As the female gets older, she gets bigger and scarier looking. They’re colorful and big and build elaborate webs. They are as intimidating as a spider can be, in my opinion. However, they are not venomous to people and are rarely known to bite.
I was wrong. The Golden Silk Orbweaver is as intimidating as a spider can be. They tend to have huge, golden bodies and long spindly legs with tufts of black bristles… yikes. Every Floridian knows this spider well. They’re very common here. They look like they would be terribly venomous, but they’re not (to people). I’ve been told they will bite, but a wasp sting will cause you more pain. Fortunately, I don’t have first-hand knowledge of this. However, I have had them land on me many times when trail riding with my horses as a kid. The spiders would always want off me fast. The frantic screaming must have scared them away.
We have a golden silk orbweaver living outside our back door now. I keep holding my camera up close to her so I can get a photo, but she starts to bounce up and down on her web when she sees me. Sooo, there’s no photo. These spiders are often referred to as the Florida banana spider as well. I found a great website that has lots of Golden Silk orbweaver photos and great information about them… click here. The site says they always have banana spiders throughout their barn in the summers. On one particular summer, they took notice that every spider packed up and disappeared a week before a major hurricane hit. This might be a good reason to keep them around. If the spiders are too much to handle though, they can easily be relocated without touching them. Tear down their web and they will rebuild it somewhere else.
For a really fun bug blog, check out The Bug Lady. My favorite post is the one about the Brazilian Armadeira spider… it tries to kill you. It is also referred to as a banana spider, but this species is the most venomous spider in the world.
I hope I didn’t give you the heebie-jeebies with this post. We all live with spiders, even in the big cities. If it makes you feel any better, Florida’s Fabulous Spiders says that bees and wasps kill more people in the U.S. every year than spiders and snakes combined kill in ten years.
Come grow with us!