Monday, March 19, 2012

Tales From the Gap - Feeding Spider

Orb weavers are a group of spiders that spin the familiar spider webs we all know and love. Their webs are designed to capture prey, which the spiders immobilize and save for a rainy day. This is a tale of feeding Spider.

There was a low lying area where I used to survey for butterflies. It was mostly filled with grasses and joe-pye-weed, and in late summer this field was splashed with the deep purple of ironweed flowers. And it was home to a whole village of spiders.

Photo by Barb Barton

Most every visit I made to this spot was in the early morning hours. The dew would settle on the tall vegetation and soak my pants clean through. Tiny droplets of water would hang from spider webs strung between blades of grass.

One particular morning I made my way into the field, and I noticed that most of the webs had small bundles attached to them. Upon closer inspection, I saw these bundles were grasshoppers and other unfortunate insects that had gotten tangled up in the webs and were subsequently wrapped in spider silk into neat, tidy bundles.

It took much agility on my part to wind my way through the field and avoid all those spider webs. I had watched Spider once construct a web from start to finish. I knew how much work it took. I was not going to destroy one web that day.

As I made my way through the wet vegetation, I saw that I had indeed walked through a web, and one of those wrapped bundles had stuck to my fatigues. I didn't want to waste this tender morsel, so I carefully took a small stick and placed the bundle on the end of it.

After a bit of searching, I found what I was looking for. A spider with an empty web. She was hunkered down at its edge, waiting for some action. I don't think Spider was expecting me.

I know that birds and squirrels and cats and dogs all take food from us humans if offered. I wondered if Spider would, too? I took my stick and slowly put the bundle that had stuck on my pants in front of Spider. "Here you go little one," I said to Spider. She backed up rather quickly. I remained calm and slowly moved the bundle a little closer. "It's OK Spider, it is a gift from me to you."  Slowly Spider moved toward the bundle and very gingerly took my gift. She placed it carefully onto her web, where it stuck like glue.

There is something special about the invisible connection that happens when one accepts the offering of another. It is a form of communication, a Spiritual touching. Thank you Spider, for that experience.


  1. Amazing. One of the most moving moments I've ever had involved a spider web, though rather than feed a spider, my son asked me to rescue a young blue dragonfly that had just flown into a web and was struggling. So I did. I didn't think I would be able to--the dragonfly was so small and the web so sticky on its wings and legs--but as I worked, time and space collapsed into that one moment, that one creature, and the web peeled away from a dragonfly's wings and I watched it fly away.

    There's wonder in it all, isn't there? The spider and the dragonfly, the feeding and the freeing.

  2. On my FB wall, your spider blog also garnered these comments:

    Jerri: Found a large black ant--about an inch long I think--in our bathroom tonight. She was working her way along the baseboard, searching for an exit. I captured her in an empty medicine bottle and took her outside and released her. Larry thinks she will find her way back. I don't think she really wants to live in her bathroom. We shall see.

    Cathy: OK--we are not only the goofy people who relocate poisonous snakes, but we also gently capture insects in the house and take them outside. Spiders are among my favorites. I loved this blog. It's common for us to look into the eyes of our pets and see humanity reflected back, but it is a rare human that sees that in what most people consider a pest. Thanks for sharing, Dawn.

  3. I am so glad to hear there are others who treasure all life. Thanks for sharing Dawn!