Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hope for the Future

Hi! I'm trying to minimize my time spent posting this week, since I'm pretty busy with work. And that "Wurstjaegering" post was rather meaty, anyway. (Pun intended.) So today, like yesterday, I won't "say" a lot, but I will show you another lovely thing in our yard and tell you briefly how happy it makes us. First, here's the "thing."

Do you know what it is? Yes! You guessed it! It's an argiope egg case. Argiopes are those strikingly beautiful and large "black and yellow garden spiders" that build large, intricate orbs. Argiope aurantia is the species we're talking about here.

It's a long story that I won't get into in depth today, but we have come to know and love these creatures. Like the garter snakes, they are as welcome in our garden and yard as the flowers, and we feel blessed when we discover them on our property. Just because they're efficient predators (ahem, like us) doesn't mean they're not beautiful.

So last year, one of our argiopes lived at the front of our house, over the flower bed beneath the first-floor living room window. We watched her mature through some of her last molts. We also noticed when she was "visited" by a male argiope or two. Ooh-la-la.

Female argiopes--the ones that spin the webs, and basically the only ones you ever see--have to eat a lot to be so productive with their eggs. And I'm sure this one spewed more than one eggcase before the frosts closed the curtain on her, last October, but this is the only one we've found, and it's been quite visible all winter. Usually they position the egg cases under leaves. She "hid" this one just under the brick windowsill.

I hope you can see it in the picture, but she tethered it in place really nicely with her webbing. It's been hanging there securely all winter, even as her exoskeleton no doubt disarticulates and crumbles into the earth beneath the tangle of vinca vines.

Several years ago, when we lived in Columbia, an argiope had left a late-autumn egg case on our sliding back patio door, and while we were standing inside one day that winter, we watched a tufted titmouse swoop up abruptly to it and snatch it completely away, all in one swift fluttering motion. Can't blame the titmouse for wanting a nice omelette on a cold morning, but then, we were sorry about Mrs. Argiope's productivity.

You'll notice there's a dent on the egg case; that appeared only a few weeks ago, right after one of our recent warm spells. I suspect the eggs might have hatched and the spiderlings dispersed. Hooray! Happy birthday! . . . Meanwhile, I'll let the egg case be, just where it is, until I'm sure it's empty. . . . Isn't it pretty?


Diane said...

No, wouldn't say it is "pretty", but it IS beautiful! I'm catching up on your posts. Tomorrow I'll work on "Wurstjaegering"...

Oh - and we have some of G-ma's Elephant Ear (sorry no Latin from this gal). I'll email you about that.

Julie said...

Yes, the elephant ears will be another post, once the danger of freezing is over. There's a great anecdote involving the elephant ears, Grandma's crony Bonnie Mae Dunlap, and the Eldon Garden Club that I'm itchin' to tell.