Charlotte would be proud

I believe this is a cross spider, named not for its disposition, but for the pattern of the spots on its abdomen. Photo by Sharon Boddy. Copyright 2015

I believe this is a cross spider, named not for its disposition, but for the pattern of the spots on its abdomen. Photo by Sharon Boddy. Copyright 2015

Ask anyone who’s read E.B. White’s award-winning novel, Charlotte’s Web and many will admit to liking the eponymous heroine. Perhaps they even shed a tear or two when she died. If only real spiders were as plucky and sympathetic.

Spiders get lumped in with sharks and snakes a lot of times. People are terrified of them. Perhaps it has something to do with the letter ‘S’.

I was once terrified of spiders. But one day, long ago, I simply decided that my fear was stupid (perhaps after reading a certain novel) and I resolved to get over it. And I did. It took a while but I can now enjoy them for what they are.

Spider web

Photo by B. Gray

Spiders are both artists–take a look at a morning web, sparkling with dew and tell me otherwise–and predators–for the most part, spiders inject their, mostly insect, prey with liquifying chemicals then suck out the contents.  Hmmm…liquifying chemicals.

Their web silk is five times stronger than steel of the same diameter; they are found on every continent except Antarctica (although if we continue to warm the planet that may only be a matter of time); there’s even a species of vegetarian spider, the Bagheera kilplingi, named in honour of Rudyard Kipling of The Jungle Book fame.

Over the last decade or so, however, I hadn’t seen as many as I used to and wondered if anything bad was happening to our arachnid friends. Were they being used in scientific experiments? Was there a spider assassin on the loose? Like so many other species, had they been impacted by pesticides, habitat destruction and climate change?

So I’m delighted to note that, this year, the spiders seem to have made a comeback. They are all over the buildings of Westboro Village, hanging out in every conceivable corner of every building, as well as making themselves right at home in my garage, on my front porch, attached to my bike, etc., etc.

I still don’t particularly like them hanging over my head, but since spiders eat other bugs, I welcome them as best I can by NOT killing them and occasionally, catching a juicy house fly and throwing it at its web.

I think Charlotte would approve.

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