Saturday, September 09, 2006

Wyrdsmiths meeting

I got confused about the date for our next meeting and showed up at the meeting place two evenings ago. Fortunately, Lyda and Doug were also confused and showed up. The three of us sat around and talked about writing and families for a couple of hours. Then we left the coffee house where our group meets. It's in a historic district. The street lamps are old-fashioned, short and topped with white globes, five in a cluster on each lamp. By this time, the lamps were lit. We looked up at the lamp outside the coffee house door. The globes were covered by spider webs, and there were many large, round, fat spiders climbing on the the webs, silhouetted against the glow of the globes. We went "oo" and "ah." A guy came by and said, "There are even more spiders on the lamp across the street." We went over, and he was right. The webs went up to the building overhang as well as from globe to globe.

Lyda's three year old son wants to be a spider, when he doesn't want to be a shark; and she knows something about the animals. "They aren't social," she kept saying, as we watched the spiders climbing over their webs.

I said goodby and crossed another street. The lamps on the far side had more spiders. These seemed to belong to two species, one around and fat, the other narrow and long legged. I called Lyda and Doug over to see the new spiders. Then I continued on my way home. All the lamps I passed had spiders. It made sense: the light attracted flying bugs, and the spiders caught them in their webs. Even though most spiders are not social, there was food enough for all.

Even with an explanation, it was amazing, almost science fictional.

2 comments:

Eleanor said...

Friday an issue of New Scientist came. They have found a colonial species of spiders in Ecuador. They live in nests of up to several thousand individuals and hunt by hanging sticky silk threads from low-lying leaves. "When an insect blunders into the silk, a group of spiders drop down and wrap more threads around it... carrying it back to the nest of share with others..."

Sean M. Murphy said...

Shudder... Okay... SCRATCH Ecuador off the list of vacation to-go places...