Provided with toys and spider scouting for boys

I wanted to get out and get some exercise today, and also see how the local spider populations are doing. It was not a great outing — the horticulture garden is closed, as is Pomme de Terre park, so the usual haunts where I can go for a nice long walk and see lots of varieties of habitats were inaccessible. I finally ended up at East Side Park, a small central city park, mostly mowed grass, kiddie play structures, and an assortment of picnic tables. Not the best sort of place for wild spiders. Also, it’s been a bit neglected during the pandemic. I saw lots of broken glass (someone snuck out there with the cooking sherry, I noticed), so not entirely the best place for kids right now.

I needed the exercise. I found I’m out of shape from my winter’s languor. I was either in a half crouch, stooped over, or standing on tip-toe holding up my camera, in order to take these photos, and I was trembling after 10 minutes, so I’d just aim and take a dozen photos hoping one of them would be usable.

The park does have a big ol’ band shell, though, and I crawled around that for a while and found 4 different species without looking too hard. It’s a rather grungy structure right now, needing a good power wash, and I found lots of webs clotted with dead insects, especially mosquitos, draped all over the walls. Most of them looked ancient, probably from last summer.

But there were a few new spiders living there! I found 4 species on the side of this one building and you can see the photos on Patreon and also on Instagram and under the #InverteFest tag and the Spiders of Minnesota page. I’m not hiding them, I’m just trying to avoid sticking spiders in the faces of arachnophobes here.


  1. says

    “Pomme de Terre”—did you know that that’s what an Australian of French extraction would call an English farmer immigrant?

    I blame the virus

  2. blf says

    For teh prof-reddig chalengened, teh mildly deranged penguin suggests triying to tpey wizh yhe other earlobe. Or, in her case, another mouse — the kind which goes squeak! squish! as it’s pounding against the keyboard — not the boring kind which goes click! boning! and spews out a puff of magic blue smoke. The ideaer beeig a novel typing technique will make one pay attention to the buttons one is perssi…

  3. blf says

    Just to the North of Stevens County (which contains Morris) is Grant County, which contains the ghost town Pomme de Terre, Minnesota. According to the referenced Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge article, the name — which is Français for potato(e) — is actually named after “the prairie turnip (Psoralea esculenta), a potato-like root vegetable which was commonly eaten by the Sioux.”

    Pomme de Terre village is located in Pomme de Terre Township. The Pomme de Terre River flows through both Grant and Stevens Counties, very near Morris. (The River’s name has the same origin.) There is also a Pomme de Terre Lake in Grant County.

    I now have the impression “Pomme de Terre” in that part of Minnesota is like “Peachtree” is in Atlanta: The name to use if you cannot think of anything else. There are zillions of, e.g., Peachtree Streets (and variants) in Atlanta, and there seems to zillions of locations, etc., called Pomme de Terre in western Minnesota.

  4. says

    Spider question: looking at the two spiders spinning webs underneath the lights outside the entrance to my apartment building, there appears to be a (very small n) correlation between spider size and web size. In general, as a spider grows, will it seek out places to build larger webs? I’m guessing that on a daily basis, a larger spider requires more calories and a larger web might deliver more calories. Of course, building a web requires calories, too, and perhaps a smaller spider simply can’t produce a larger web, given an identical environment, as a larger spider that presumably has larger energy stores.
    In other words, if we were to follow a single orb weaver through its life, would its webs get larger as it got larger?

  5. davidc1 says

    Over here in the UK the plod have been stopping people going to the park ,and there has been stories of them stopping people in their cars and inspecting peoples shopping bags to make sure they are only buying stuff they really need .