I noticed her bulbous form, striking colors and lean legs in my front garden bed. She had just trapped a large bumblebee in her web and was swiftly wrapping it up in silk.
My first reaction was to take a step back, as if she was going to jump from her web to suck the life out of me. Then I watched and began to feel sorry for the bee, yet triumphant for the spider. I suppose this is the circle of life. One life ends and another begins.
I became curious about the spider and kept a sharp eye out for it the next few days. What’s its story? What kind of spider is it? Is it a male or female?
I showed it to my daughters and they reminded me that there was a spider just like it last year, same place and same time of year. This piqued my curiosity further. I needed to find out more.
I enlisted my two girls (ages 11 and 7) to help. Using the National Wildlife Federation website, we easily looked up our eight-legged friend and found it was an Argiope Aurantia. She was a female, judging by her size. These spiders are found throughout the continental US, Canada, Mexico and Central America. Sadly, she will probably perish in the first hard frost but can live for years in a warmer climate. Like all garden spiders, she helps control pests.
My daughters found it ironic that it happened to be October and the spider fit right in with our Halloween decorations. Our family does not take Halloween decorations lightly. We go all out every holiday, from large spiders crawling up our house and ghouls hanging from trees, to skeletons and tombstones in our front yard. Our motto is “go big or go home.” This seems to be Miss Spider’s motto, too, judging on the girth of that bee.
So in honor of our spider friend, here are some fun seasonal activities to enjoy!
I encourage you to get outside and explore your yard, neighborhood, sidewalk or local park. There is so much to observe, explore, and create!
Pine Cone Spiders:
Pinecones or Chestnuts (depending on where you live)
Googly Eyes (available at any craft store)
Pipe cleaners or twigs
Equipment: Scissors and glue gun
Use twigs or cut pipe cleaners to make eight legs,
Using glue gun, attach eyes and legs in a spider form.
Large or small pumpkin
Collection of leaves, grass, nuts, twigs or any other natural materials you can find
Equipment: Glue gun
Directions: Using glue gun, attach leaves, grass, nuts and twigs to create a face on your pumpkin.
Black construction paper or poster board
Liquid craft glue (not glue sticks)
Googly eyes (available at any craft store)
Twigs of various shapes and sizes from your yard, neighborhood or park
Directions: Using Liquid craft glue, attach twigs into a forest scene on black construction paper, and glue googly eyes to resemble eyes peering out from the forest.
In honor of my spider friend, we’re adding the following great children’s books to our reading list:
Miss Spider’s Tea Party by David Kirk
Sophie’s Masterpiece by Eileen Spinelli
Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin
Featured image by Susana Fonticoba