The Natural Interest Concern



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.

Meet our guest, “Spidey”.

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.

Our Spidey in action.

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.

* * *

For some incredible macro photos and more detailed information about Cross Orb Weavers see the Cirrus Image site run by Bruce Marlin.

File under: Field Studies
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Comments on “Houseguest”

  1. I have lots of these outside but never have had them in the house. They are uncommonly beautiful spiders. I’ve just had the more common house spider living above the mirror in my bath for at least 6 weeks. She’s finally gone but I still look up for her every morning. Funny how attached one can get to a spider, isn’t it?

  2. Good to hear that it isn’t just us who have formed an unlikely attachment to a spider! Davin wrote this post months ago, and believe it or not, Spidey is still set up in the kitchen window!

  3. What a neat idea for a blog. Do you guys know the Spiderbro meme?

    If not, it comes from a 4Chan post where a guy tells the story of having a girl over, sees a spider, goes to step on it, can’t and realizes spider is catching a roach. Time passes and the guy begins to see the spider as a pet who catches bugs in his house.

    One night he and his girlfriend are confronted by two burglars in their home. He tackles one, but gets a gun pulled on him by the other. He looks up and Spiderbro is hanging from the ceiling, falls on the burglar’s face and bites him. He’s able to wrestle the gun from him and they call the cops.

    Considering where the story originated I don’t know how truthful it is. But I do know that it made me change how I see spiders. I have a Spiderbo in the bathroom now. Not sure what he’s surviving on though, but he’s there. Waiting to protect me.

  4. I have a wolf spider residing in my bedroom. It scared the hell out of me, by walking up my leg, sitting on my knee and looking at me (I was sitting as I am now, with my legs up on the desk). I was trying to think of a name for it the other day.

    We had two of the above spiders in my garden, spinning their web on our swing seat, where I love to sit with the animals. I noticed it packed up its web one night – it was shoved into the crease in the metal, and one of the spiders was protecting it – covering the gap. the next day, the web was back and bigger than ever.

  5. Thanks MrBrownThumb! The story does seem a little over-the-top, but you never know… We say hello to Spidey every night when he comes down from his hiding spot…. which I’m sure would be seen by some as a bit crazy. I already know that if anything happened to him I’d miss his presence in the kitchen. He’s become a strange and unexpected part of the family.

  6. We get orb spiders here in northern California too, it seems every fall into winter. Ususally out in the garden, I had one on the back of my screen door this year. It’s web was large, quite beautiful, & it rather gave & took with the door.

    They’re quite startling–one night I nearly walked into it, catching the corner of the web. It was repaired & ready to go by the next morning. Now, it’s gone, perhaps hybernating.
    d :-)

  7. We had a ‘Spidey’ too! He lived in the passenger side mirror of the car for 6 months and grew much bigger and had more stripes over the summer. He was very skilled at clambering up his web back in behind the mirror once the car started moving. In ferry lineups he’d reappear and hangout. We were very sad the day he did not come out. Hopefully our new car will have a Spidey friend this summer too.

  8. I love these stories! I grew up in a very arachnophobic house but got over it as a grownup. It amuses my husband no end when I greet our resident spiders, and/or carefully release the bigguns that belong outside. But my mom is HORRIFIED when I come home and petition for spider clemency as she’s ready to smash them. Spider rescues happen every time I visit!

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