We went on a spider walk around the house last night. I thought it would be interesting to see what the spiders do after the sun sets — I’ve read that the species I’m most interested in is more active at night — so we put on our head lamps and prowled about the house and garden in the dark, to see what we could see.
It’s a different world. We saw a cicada, and lots of moths (they liked our headlights), and crickets, and mosquitos, and flies, and mosquitos, and mosquitos, and mosquitos, and mosquitos, and mosquitos, and mosquitos. This was a perilous journey if you’re anemic or fear blood loss. We were there for the spiders, though.
Our house is already festooned with theridiidids, and we saw even more. Mary has been noticing an expansion of sheet webs down near the foundation, and had been wondering who was responsible, and they were out, these cute little grass spiders. They hang out in the space underneath our siding, and what we saw at night is that they’d half emerge. They stick out their head and legs from spaces in the wall, but keep their butts hidden away. They were very shy, and when we got close…thwip, they’d instantly dart back into their hidey holes.
Mary wanted to try out the photography thing, and discovered that it’s harder than it looks. You’ve got so little working space in front of the lens, and you’ve got to move the snout of the camera right up next to anything before you see more than a blur, and to focus, you physically move the camera forward and back until you get the little spider right in the plane of focus, and then you have to click the shutter, but on an unfamiliar camera you’ve forgotten where the shutter button is, so you look and find it, and then you have to find the spider again. Repeat until you have it momentarily in view, then click, click, click. She did a serviceable job on this little Parasteatoda, she just needs to practice a little more. Look at that, the hind leg is in perfectly sharp focus!
More practice and she’ll be as addicted as I am, and then the last voice of sensible restraint in our house will be browsing camera catalogs, and instead of food we’ll have all the lenses I could want, and a couple of new camera bodies, and overpriced image processing software, and…