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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 1, March 2018

Stuart Barlow
Salem, New York, USA

Harriet and Me

The spider web festooning the bathroom window sill seemed to have appeared overnight. And in its corner, a large tan spider. There didn’t seem to be much to eat where she’d made her den. This summer I’ve had house flies invading the screened porch. I captured one in a lidded plastic cup and, quickly removing the lid, bounced the fly off the bathroom window and into the web. Harriet raced over, seized the fly, and disappeared into a dark place in the slat. She must have been famished. A few hours later, when I saw her emerge at the web’s hidden edge again, I bounced another fly into her web. This time she waited as the fly struggled in the web’s strands, snaring itself more thoroughly, then, again, darted out and deftly grabbed the fly, once again disappearing into her hidden lair. Same occurred with the third fly.

I imagine these fly meals were like steaks for Harriet. I went to the Audubon Guide to identify her, and determined that she’s a grass spider through the guide’s description of her web: Horizontal sheet with funnel extending from center to 1 edge. No sticky fibers but many long telegraph fibers across to funnel opening. I am not an entomologist, so really can’t tell which of the many species of grass spiders Harriet belongs to. Here in the mountains the nights are already getting colder. Closing the bathroom window will destroy Harriet’s nest. Of course she can always build another, but I’ll try to hold out until October. She’ll probably be dying or dead by then. Will Harriet leave to seek a mate? I don’t know if a mate was able to find her. If he did, there will be an egg. Eggs overwinter in a convex egg sac. I’ll try to find the sac, if there is one, and remove it into the woodshed for the winter. I really don’t want to find hundreds of spiderlings wandering about the house one morning.

late summer –
again I miss
the Perseids



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