Archive for March 20th, 2012

You are!  Yes you are!  Handsome fellow, caught rappelling from the living room ceiling, and carefully placed outside for his photo shoot:

He wasn’t exactly thrilled with the camera — the lens would have scanned to him as one HELL of a big spider eye.  His size and emerald chelicera suggest to me he’s a Phidippus audax — the Daring Jumping Spider from the family Salticidae.  I realize that not everyone thinks jumping spiders are adorable [there’s at least one video out there that shows a pair of courting P. regis spiders with ballet music as the background audio], but if you do, here’s a nice video of another audax.

My beloved Word is very tolerant of my fascination with jumping spiders; we’ve set up some house rules about where spiders are ‘allowed’ to be, and if they violate human airspace, it’s my job to put them outside.

Trivia — while doing the searches for these links, I may have solved a 19 year old mystery — when I was leaving Pittsburgh, a large jumping spider with abdomen markings that reminded me of a metallic-banded wasp, decided to travel along in the lee of my car’s sideview mirror.  I now think it might have been a female P. regis….  Anyone know if that’s likely?  The thing was huge…..


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This post has been languishing in the Draft folder for a long time — yesterday as I was evicting grass and weeds from an old flower bed that’d gotten over-grown, it occurred to me to finish it.

What follows is mostly from May of 2011:

When I pick up a shovel in the morning, intent on carving out more flower and herb beds from the too-much-with-us lawn, I know there will be casualties. Spiders disturbed, the occassional earthworm sliced in twain… When I can, I move the live things out of the way — unless they’re grubs: those go onto the sidewalk for the sparrows, wrens, and catbirds.

But this morning there was the ant colony. Little brown ones, perhaps not much different from the ones I merrily dispatch with soapy water if they dare enter the house, but this was a large colony in the middle of the yard, pretty much carrying on au naturale.

I’d encouraged them to move on several times, lifting the old slab of concrete under which they’d built their nursery caverns, but unlike other nests I’ve treated similarly, they did not move their home in response to the repeated invasions of light and fresh air.  Apparently this nest was filled with unperturbable or incredibly automated ants who had a job description that wasn’t budging just because a spade was thunking nearby.

It’s my job — I take care of the children.  It’s my job — I take care of the children.  It’s my job…

Well, in that case…. I levered up the whole nest and carried it in the spade over to a corner of the garden we never use.  Carry on, ladies; I don’t think the rabbits will mind you as neighbors.


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I think this photographic fantasy on ornamental cabbages captures the ludicrousness of that season well:

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