25 June ’19
So scarce these past two years that seeing this very handsome young lady among a patch of lavender had me smiling from ear to ear.
Female Brown Button with her egg sacs.
There were originally three sacs, but this morning I noticed a fourth -the one she is next to. Inspecting, protecting?
I saw movement and so that I could get a closer look, I gently blew on her and she quickly scurried back to her nest in the corner.
And when I bent down and squinted I was able to identify the source of the movement.
Meet the kids!
Hardly larger than tiny bread crumbs – two Brown Button Spiderlings.
Okay, call me mad – you certainly won’t be the first, I can assure you, and probably not the last, but I believe that, irrespective of the species, limb damage needs a certain amount of physiotherapy.
To this end, I take Mrs Bert out of her abode a couple of times a day and with a bit of cajoling, get her to perambulate across my hand and up and down my arm.
Like any ”athlete” in training she will also get a few drops of water.
As can be seen here, she will dunk one of her pedipalps and then take a sip while giving her fangs a bit of a wash in the process.
I also stroke her damaged legs, in an effort to encourage her to move them. I am flying by the seat of my pants here, of course, but she seems to be more mobile.
Odd thing. Once I place her on my hand she seems reluctant to leave and has to be prodded off!
Oh, well, if she’s content and doesn’t bite me then I’m okay with it.
”Oi! Senor! You can tell the time, I presume? That’s why you’re wearing a watch, right? So where’s my dinner, then eh?”
A bit more exercise I think.
”Good grief”. What does an arachnid have to do get a meal around here?”
Try a bit of abseiling. And use every one of your legs if you please!
”Okay, okay. Enough already. Bloody slave driver. I’m going to see Ems. We girls must stick together!”
”Smooth! Do I get my supper now?”
And talking of Smooth ….
My friend, Mrs R, was always an arachnophobe, and was not at all interested in Mrs Bert, our perfectly harmless rescued rain spider.
She would not even come near when I first introduced her, but slowly, over the past few weeks, every time she has visited she has taken an interest.
And unbeknownst to us all, Mrs R had a secret goal: She was determined to conquer her fear of spiders.
So yesterday, she decided the time was right. Initially she grabbed my wrist so tightly I thought the blood supply had been cut off! Then she averted her eyes while the spider very gently crawled onto her hand.
Bert is still semi-invalid so there was no super fast scurrying, but rather a very tentative exploratory dabble with her front legs.
After a few moments of trembling, she looked at the spider who had hardly moved, released her vice-like grip on my wrist and was able to pose long enough for Ems to take a photo.
Believe me, to go from pants-wetting fear to this, is quite an achievement, make no mistake.
Photos taken this evening.
Click on either image if you want an even closer view.
She has been eating over the past three days, which is a relief (she is eating in these photos) and she looks as if she is on the mend.
Certainly she has filled out a little and lost that emaciated look, but she is still not fully active yet, her right side – the one she shed a severely damaged leg – is a concern, as you may be able to discern from the top photo, but she is moving a little, which is progress.
I am still hopeful she fully recovers, but this may now take more time than I originally anticipated and may will include one or two more molts – maybe she will even shed another leg?
Besides, the last thing I want to do is see her fatten up, release her, only to encounter a wasp after 5 minutes.
So it looks as if she may remain a guest for a while.
Fine by me.
She is such a well behaved young lady!
Recovery is a slow process it seems, and feeding him is becoming an issue. We offered two small crickets but he declined. Well, we know one escaped and the other was not in the container when we went to look later. It may have escaped too. We’re not sure as the lid wasn’t firmly secured.
Later, Ems found a roach. Bert initially bared his fangs and made the move. However, it seemed a bit too much to ”get his teeth into” so, after an hour or two, I let the roach go.
We will call at the Pet Shop tomorrow and see if my main man Dave, has any more crickets.
Meanwhile … Bert enjoyed his walk around the garden – nothing like a bit of sunshine to perk up the spirits – and is now back in the box.
We haven’t given up on our Rescued Arachnid.
What’s happening here is a bit of Incy Wincy physiotherapy. Ems is gently massaging the damaged limbs with a soft paint brush to encourage movement. The spider reacts by raising its legs , sometimes in a gesture that can only imply it is somewhat fed up with all the attention.
But he is not moving as freely as we’d hoped. Well, not yet at any rate , so he will just have to get over his Attitude Issue and suffer the indignation of Medical Attention a la Ark’s Spot and jolly well be grateful!
Yesterday I took a turn with the brush and he showed exactly how he felt about my ministering by biting me on my second finger just below the knuckle. Broke skin too! Bloody ungrateful little sod.
Still no success feeding him yet, but his lack of mobility may have something to do with this.
Oh, well, we can but try.
A few weeks ago as I was walking up the path to the shed I saw this ….
an adult Pompilid Wasp had caught a juvenile Rain Spider, and after stinging and paralyzing it, was proceeding to drag it back to its nest. Once there -if it had not done so already – it would deposit an egg in the spider, and after around 20 days the lavae would hatch and proceed to eat the still-very-much-alive spider inside out.
If you have watched any of the Alien movies you will know what is install for the spider.
As much as I really wanted to save the spider I have learned from painful experience that once a spider is in this predicament there is usually little one can do.
At that moment, one of our cats emerged from behind the shed and the wasp flew off, leaving the paralyzed spider on the path.
Pick it up?
Of course, if the wasp can’t have one spider it will track down and paralyze another. That’s nature.
So I decided to leave well alone and prepared to wait for the wasp’s return. However, after ten minutes the wasp was a no show. I waited another ten and still no wasp. After twenty minutes it was a fair guess the wasp was not coming back.
So … I picked up the spider and brought it into the shed.
As unlikely the chance of survival, there was at least a chance that the wasp had not deposited its egg in the spider.
After a day or two he seemed to respond a little but there was still serious paralysis caused by the venom and especially on his right side.
Here you can just see the spider is moulting, shedding for the first of several times. There is sign of recovery, but there is still chance the wasp may have laid its egg.
The extant of the damage eventually caused the spider to shed its right back leg, and the remaining three legs on this side are still not functioning properly.
However, this weekend sees the 24th day since the wasp attack and although looking a little thin, and still not managing to eat yet, the spider is at ,least taking a little daily water and seems to be gamely hanging in there,
and, I am happy to report even tried to bite me yesterday, which I consider a good sign.
Whether he will fully recover, remains to be seen.
Sometimes, being in the right place at the right time means one gets to play International Rescue.
Okay, I admit it – I jumped when this little one bungee jumped and landed on my forehead then ran up its thread onto my scalp as I walked between two of the lemon trees this afternoon, but solely because I felt him rather than saw him, and having been bitten on a few occasions by sac spiders I am wary of Arachnids-Unseen.
Anyway, after my ”moment” I had a laugh to myself then held my arm close to the Bitter Orange tree and he jumped onto a leaf and scurried away to hide.
Tetragnatha sp. (Tetragnathidae)
Long Jawed Orb Weavers.
These guys hang out around the edges of the pond stringing web from the pool edge to the reeds.
If you’d like to see what else they can do with their webs, have a look at Notes post! Truly spectacular.
Female Crab Spider and mate hanging out in a pink orchid.
After an absence of nigh on twelve months, a call to come to the garden shed and ”Bring the camera!” had me scurrying Toot Sweet from my office this evening.
The dry weather, and what I can only imagine to have been some rather heavy predation from Pompilid wasps, the Rain Spiders have been more scarce than hen’s teeth. And having five hens I can vouch for this!
Seeing this youngster had me smiling from ear to ear. A real treat to have one back again. I can only hope that the upcoming seasonal rains will see a few more grace us with their presence.
This may be a male from the size of his pedipalps – but this is not certain – ( would be nice if it turns out to be female) and as handsome and healthy an arachnid you are likely to see.
He has already undergone at least one moult, as you can see from the old skin I found on the floor of the shed.