Friday, September 16, 2011

My Kinda Creepy Moment

So this morning, I'm out using an insect sweep net to show a class of kindergarteners some cool bug critters.  We found a lot -- I was worried after yesterday's cold, but it's a lot warmer today and the arthropod world seems as active as ever.  So I empty a net onto a white cloth and there are some little beetles crawling around and ants and I want to sort of clear the debris so we can really take stock of what critters we have.  I reach for a round ball that I thought was some sort of seed head, and pick it up... and it's really mushy.  Because it's a ginormous spider, curled into a ball out of fear.  (A defense mechanism, it should be noted, that almost worked!)  I had to work on NOT screaming "EEK!" like a cartoon person who discovers a mouse.

The kindergarten kids, a lot of them haven't learned fear yet.  It's great, they take crab spiders and hold them in their hands, they let caterpillars crawl all over them, they pet the true bugs and touch the ants and everything.  Older kids, a lot of them won't do that, especially with the spiders.  I assume this is at least in part because they see adults like me react with an "EEK!" when we encounter spiders.  And I actually like bugs pretty well, especially outside of my house, but still.  They "EEK" reaction when I touch it is just some sort of natural response, no matter how fascinated I am two seconds later when I've gotten over it all.

The ball of a spider, who stayed tightly tucked up for at least 10 minutes after I put her in a magnifying box for closer viewing, was an aptly-named Marble orb weaver.  Her mushy abdomen was about the size and shape of a marble. White splotches mottled its tan surface.  When she eventually stretched out to walk around, her legs were zebra-striped, black and white, and somewhat hairy.  And long.  She was really quite lovely, if you can get in the mindset where spiders can be lovely.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to snap a photo of her -- total oversight on my part.  I sent her away with a different class of kids, who released her back into the wild... where she apparently immediately started spinning.  That sort of makes me feel guilty about the web she must have worked hard on previously, only to have me inadvertently destroy it... but it wasn't on purpose, so what can I do?

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