Friday, September 26, 2008

I may lose my appetite... naaah

Last night we were joined at the dinner table by our arachnids. Because dinner just isn't complete if you're eating alone... right? Don't YOU eat with creatures in jars on the table?

We've been learning quite a bit, and I know you're just waiting on pins and needles, to find out more about spiders, so let me share our observations with you!

1. Spiders can be divided very roughly into two groups - web builders and non-web builders. HA! You were going to say poisonous and non-poisonous, but that's not it. They're pretty much all poisonous, but not so you'd notice. Most of them either can't bite through your skin, or their poison is too weak (or in too small an amount) to bother you. At least where we live. So we've been using the very non-technical names of "web spiders" and "jumping spiders", for the ones we catch. Web spiders usually stay on their web, so if you find a spider that is NOT on a web, it probably isn't going to make one. And it's probably watching you.

2. Web spiders don't see very well. They do not chase bugs that fly right in front of them. They don't NEED to see well because they make a big sticky web. When a bug gets stuck in the web and panics, the web vibrates and.... you know what happens next.

3. Jumping spiders see pretty well and move pretty fast. Sometimes they actually pounce.

4. The first two jumping spiders we caught, we carelessly put into the same jar.

Then we had one.

Then we got more jars.

5. It is FUN to watch spiders hunt! Especially for three boys. Which is why the jars of spiders were on the dinner table. Because we just didn't want to miss any of the carnivorous action.

Having exhausted the fly population in the compost bin (the frog was quite hungry, apparently), the boys have started catching crane flies.

Well, to be honest, TATE catches the crane flies. Gunnar is hampered by his brace (and his size... short), and Wyatt is just a wee bit squeamish. Tate tries to reason with him, ("C'mon Wyatt! They're just crane flies! They can't bite or sting or anything! They don't even EAT!"), but to no avail. Wyatt can't stand the fluttery feeling.

Tate is right, by the way. Adult crane flies don't bite, sting, or eat. They mate, lay eggs, and die. The larva eat... your grass roots. Um, the roots of your grass. Yuck. Anyway...

One of our web spiders and one of our non-web "jumping" spiders really REALLY like crane flies! We put the "jumping" spider in a small jar, threw in a crane fly, and the spider lifted his front legs up over his head and went right for it. A few minutes later there were just a few legs and the wings in the bottom of the jar. So they threw in another crane fly. And the spider went for it again. More carnage.

A couple of our spiders weren't really doing much of anything, so the boys decided to put them in together with Mr. Carnivore, just to see what would happen. Hmmmm, they all pretty much stayed as far apart as possible while we were watching. But Mr. C must've recovered his appetite in the night, because the other two were dead this morning.

When they tossed a crane fly in to the web builder, the boys got to see "her" (probably) pounce, bite, and wrap her victim. Twice. (Two crane flies.)

Then I found this link to jumping spider courting behavior. Turn up your volume and click HERE. But set down your beverage and go potty first, that's all I'm saying.


leahlefler said...

Spiders freak me out. They always seem to show up on the ceiling, right above my head. Shudder.

I foresee a life of many insects and spiders, if your boys are any indication of what to expect, lol!

Julie said...

I've decided today is "release" day... all the spiders are going OUT.

Denise Portis said...

I use to have arachnophobia very badly. I actually tried to climb out a moving vehicle 8 months pregnant when I discovered a spider INSIDE the car. (I think it was then my psychologist hubby tho't I really needed help).
Well I never got it.
But I did get better... I can actually squish a spider now if it isn't to big. If it's big... I call the 18 year old six foot 3 inch "baby" of the family.

Julie said...

Eewwwwwww, I can't stand to squish them if they're big... you can hear (or feel) their shells crack. Yuck!

My 9 year-old takes care of them for me. He tenderly scoops them up and carries them outside.

Deborah said...

We have a spider (just like the one you have pictured) hanging in our dining room window (outside). She has given us endless hours of entertainment and science lessons. She also brings our a song in my children everytime. Something about large behinds :-).