October, 2011: The Spider Dance

Every night for the past two weeks we’ve had a large garden spider build its web on our porch post. I’m not a particular fan of spiders, but this one was large enough to witness many events of its life. I watched as it caught bugs in its record album web. It pulled huge holes in its hard work to wrap up its latest victim.  If I blew on the web, it would raise up its front legs with the second set waving violently to protect its domain. I sort of “adopted” this spider because it carried on despite my fascination with it.

 Last night, however, there was an epic battle in the circle of life that I was fortunate enough to witness.

The web was built in the spiraling pattern with my “pet” sitting square in the middle. He had already enjoyed a tasty snack on a couple of larger bugs that landed and promptly became trapped. For most of the evening a smaller wolf spider kept trying to get up into the center only to be chased off by the larger garden spider that called my porch home.

The pushing of boundaries didn’t seem to be working for the wolf spider all that well. Whenever it would get close, the garden spider would drop down, hiss (if that’s what that noise was) and the smaller spider would back off by turning and spinning away smoothly on it’s own addition to the web. This repeated for a few hours. Test, guard, retreat, try again.

I wasn’t feeling well so I went out on the porch to sit in the noisy night. I noticed that the little wolf spider was still trying to take over the larger spider’s domain. This time, the tactic had changed. Instead of the wolf spider attempting to move in from the bottom of the web, it had climbed up the post and was trying a horizontal instead of vertical approach. Cautiously, the wolf spider crept farther and farther towards the center where the garden spider sat, seemingly unawares of the invasion.

The wolf spider rushed towards the center, but the garden spider, realizing his peril, pushed back the onslaught with wildly waving forefeet. The wolf spider turned and ran, but not to the edge of the web as he had been doing. He only retreated a few inches before turning to once again attack. As the wolf spider moved forward, the garden spider refused to retreat. He pushed forward and again drove the attack back.

When the two spiders did get close enough, the waving of the front four legs from both of them was truly amazing. I’d never seen spiders fight before, so I was quite fascinated. Waving madly, they both held their part of the web with violent tenacity. Neither one would allow any give. If the garden spider moved forward, the wolf spider’s legs would seemingly get stuck in the web. If the wolf spider moved forward, the garden spider raised up to its full height and punched viciously.

“Oh my God!” ripped from my lips when the wolf spider, without warning, leaped forward and had the garden spider wrapped tightly within its deadly embrace. It appeared to be stinging the garden spider with its rear end. The front legs of the garden spider were waving madly and not finding any purchase as it hung from a strand of its own web. The wolf spider relentlessly gripped the garden spider’s hind quarters. A shiny jelly-like substance oozed down the garden spider’s belly. The once frantic legs twitched slightly as the wolf spider ate. A few more twitches and my “pet” spider became the hunted and killed.

UPDATED THE NEXT DAY: Spider okay, turns out they were just mating rather violently. I feel dirty.

One comment on “October, 2011: The Spider Dance

  1. Linda Looney says:

    For maybe 3 or even 4 years, we had a beautiful spider -it had an “eye” on its back, brown in color- spin it’s web in the space around the light on the front of the garage. I was fascinated to watch it catch and “prepare” the insects that got caught in said web. Then, one year it didn’t come back and there has been no other there.
    “Love as God loves and live as Jesus lived” Rev. Tim TenClay
    >

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