Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jewel Spider

I think spiders are disgusting, yet I have developed a morbid fascination with these backyard guests. 

With the help of Google, it wasn’t hard for me to identify the spiders.  I have been in Edmonton for almost my whole life and this was the first year I have ever seen them!

(This one built its web between the rungs of the deck railing, in the path of the porch light)

Jewel Spiders, Alberta’s version of Charlotte from Charlotte's Web.  They found in the South and Central regions of Alberta, and they are non-poisonous. They are sometimes call the cat spider because the markings on its back look like a cat’s face.

They build orb webs (the circular looking ones), near houses, in the path of lights that are on in the evenings, because the bugs attracted to the lights will fly into the web while en route to the bright lights.

They are a large spider, measuring up to 20mm long.

(This picture is the underbelly side of the spider above.)

There are horns (bumps) near where the abdomen connects to the head, and a ridge in the shape of a V on the abdomen.  Their legs are hairy.

(This one has it’s web by the side door to the garage, where there is a motion activated porch light.  It crawls under the eaves to sleep during the day)

The ones in S’s yard are females.  This is the time of year they are producing and preparing to lay their egg sack.  They will die within a few days of dropping the sack.  The sack will sit over winter and hatch in the Spring, with hundreds of babies.  They will produce a silk strand and the wind will carry them away… just like in the movie!

I have to admit, my research has increased my awe and fondness for our little buddies.  These mamas-to-be are non-threatening and really do keep to themselves.  It’s sad to know that one day we’ll be out in the yard and the spiders will be nowhere to be found.  It’s then that we’ll know they have died.  :(

(The third spider, just found Saturday night)


sweetie said...

We have one of these outside our frontdoor and she has to be the most interesting thing to watch! We live outside of Winnipeg MB so I guess they are all over the prairies as well. So glad to learn our little friend is not dangerous. We will miss her when she is gone:(

Susan said...

We had one of these the first year we were in our house. I would let the kids stay up late to watch her. It makes me so sad when I hear of people killing them because they look scary :(