During daylight hours, she lurks beneath rotted logs, and in darkened caverns, but at night, unseen to human eyes, she comes out to hunt. Sometimes seen in aged wood piles and collapsing houses, the giant, forest spider is a rare site. She feeds upon anything smaller than itself, including small mice. This story doesn’t appear unbelievable if you live in the tropics, but giant spiders in the North Eastern United States? If you tell someone that there are spiders with a four to six inch leg span living in our area, they will raise an eyebrow chuckle and say something like: “Aaa Hum… Sure… Right, and how big was this spider actually? Three quarters of an inch, I bet… Afraid of spiders, are we?”
But those of us who live in or near the forest just smile, because we know something they don’t know. Spiders grow larger where man does not intervene. This little darling is not as big as she looks, she’s actually bigger. With a four inch leg span and a body as thick as my thumb, this sweet girl is not yet fully grown. (We’ve seen them far bigger!) Found sauntering across my dining room in the middle of the night, she is solid proof that her kind actually exist.
She was safely released deep in the forest, where she will find a mate, eat him if he’s not very, very careful, and raise plenty of giant, baby spiders.
This big girl is not a myth.
For those of you who refused to believe: See, I told you so! Now, who did what with that can of spider spray?
Before daylight this morning I was awake. Not that I am an early riser. I hadn’t been asleep. It was just one of those nights. I’m not sure what drew my attention to the window, but out by the pond was a large black shape that I was sure hadn’t been there the night before. Family members often go up to the pond just to sit and look out at the water. It was probably just a lawn chair, I decided. Then the lawn chair began to move. I watched for a few moments, then raced upstairs to shake my sleeping husband.
“Wake up!” I commanded, “There’s a bear cub in the back yard!”
Of course, by the time I drug the poor groggy man downstairs and to the window there was nothing to see in the darkness but darkness, but dawn brought another sight.
This little lady was perched on the lilac bush with her beak almost against the window. As she peered into the human world inside, her loud “Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!” announced that all was not well, and she wanted her people to know about it! The feeding shelf had been licked completely clean and was hanging precariously by a mere corner. It looks like it’s time to change the location of the feeding station for the summer.
(I’m not sure if I have the birds and squirrels trained, or if they have trained me. If that feeder is empty they always find a way to tell me about it. )
Well, the kids are back early, and they are regretting it. Usually the Red-winged Blackbirds return to our area in great flocks sometime in April, but yesterday as I was attempting to capture bird photos through the snowflakes, I caught sight of two pairs. (You never realize how irritating snowflakes are until you try taking photos in a snowstorm.) These gung-ho youngsters obviously decided their fuddy-duddy elders were being too cautious and struck out on their own. One bird still had his baby tufts.
Sorry, kids. We’re having a second winter up here.
The weather is changing. Fall is upon us, and the creatures of the outdoors are looking for a warm place to spend the winter. This is the fifth one of these monsters we have found in the house. The largest spider we’ve dispatched this season was over three times the size of this wolf spider. I guess if you want to live on the edge of civilization, you must accept that sometimes the wild creeps indoors. Usually these spiders travel with a mate, and the females are far larger than the males. If this guy’s girlfriend is in the house, I had better load the shotgun!
Note: This wolf spider looks as though he is free, but he’s actually in a pickle jar. I wouldn’t suggest handling this breed of wolf. This specimen was extremely aggressive and would come after my fingers when I touched the glass!
Puff is a neighborhood wildcat who spends cold nights sleeping in a box on my porch. Seen here doing his Abby imitation, Puff may look like your average house cat, but his wild roots will most likely keep him from ever being completely domesticated. Though he is curious about humans and the indoors and can sometimes even be loving, Puff was born in the wilds and prefers not to have boundaries. He comes and goes as he pleases, and accepts no attention he didn’t initiate. He did, however allow me to apply a warm compress to that eye and put in a couple of drops. It should be okay in a day or two.
For Puff, rolling over is neither an act of submission nor an offer to play. It’s a challenge. He knows he can take you, and he wants to prove it. I fell for his rub my belly tactic once. I will never do it again.
On cold winter nights, don’t forget your pet! Remember to provide plenty of food, fresh water, and a warm place to sleep.
Gone are the days when I whiled away the hours photographing squirrels. Puff ate them all!