Nature doesn’t really know about doors, walls, and windows. Inside our houses, it can feel like nature is close but kept out, separated from us by the structures we live in. It’s not that we are completely unaware that there are breeches. We know that air, pollen, dirt, and a variety of species move through our homes. It’s less likely that we think about our homes as habitats.
A couple of months ago we noticed what we thought was a temporary visitor to our kitchen. The lower Fall temperatures brought a garden spider indoors. I’m sure it’s no accident that we were also in the midst of what some have come to know as fruit fly season. This opportunistic spider set up a successful operation snaring hordes of bumbling flies, drunk off the bounty of harvested tomatoes.
Once we realized that the spider knew a good thing and was settling in for a longer stay, we began to treat him as a volunteer pet, name him, and even helped him out by sending a few hapless fruit flies his way. Day after day, he was there in an elaborate web stretched across the glass of our kitchen door. We watched his progress and gave him small congratulations for his good work against the mutual fruit fly enemy.
With a few well-worded Google image searches, we guessed that “Spidey” was a Cross Orb Weaver (Araneus diadematus) — a quite common Garden spider.
We’ve been amazed to see Spidey’s adaptation to living in our kitchen. He was first noticed perched between two picture frames and then for weeks he built and rebuilt his web across the kitchen door — the kitchen door is probably the most frequently used door in our house as it leads out to the garden. There was even a mysterious disappearance one morning when Spidey and web were completely gone. When Spidey reappeared we learned that it is common for spiders to pack up their webs and hide out.
As of this morning, Spidey resides in a roughly 45cm wide web in the kitchen window — a far less frenetic habitat than the kitchen door. Fruit fly pickings are definitely slimmer this late in the Fall but Spidey is making do.
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For some incredible macro photos and more detailed information about Cross Orb Weavers see the Cirrus Image site run by Bruce Marlin.