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Spider Time
Sep 08, '14

I love this time of year! It's Spider Time!!!

Yuk lots of people say but all indigenous peoples revere and learn from the natural world especially the Native Americans.

This is my favourite an Orb Web spider.

Alternatively now known as a:

European garden spider

Scientific name: Araneus diadematus

Higher classification: Araneus

Rank: Species

This time of year they are large enough to get noticed having been busy eating pesky flies and mosquitoes over the summer months. Therefore they are our friends! Using the Roman logic of my enemies enemy is my friend. Not always true but works most of the time.

You will find them in the garden near sheds fences and in bushes.

They make great Vet free pets!

Whilst studying A level biology I kept a 7 legged one nicknamed Erik the Web in a pickle jar over winter. I fed him what I could find and released him in the Spring. Normally he might have died in the wild.

To enable Erik to spin his beautiful web a master piece of engineering. I placed a loop of curtain wire in the jar which worked perfectly.

I pitched Erik against a variety of nasty inspects especially wasps and Erik always won!

I love the story of Robert the Bruce and the spider.

Why did I love that story?

Well I now realise that my blocked negative memories contained my life as a slave gladiator in the Colosseum. Not a pleasant experience. I was supposed to die being given only a net and a trident. However I survived by observing the spiders in my cell. I learnt from them how to fight and always win.

Wrap up your prey first then stab them in the back of the legs! Once wrapped nearly and incapacitated you can dispose of them at will.

So I became a Doctores Retiarii

It was my first teaching post! Sort of "I'm a Supply teacher get me out of here!!!"

Ultimate real reality tv.

When a new recruit (novicius) entered one of the gladiators schools to commence gladiator training he was assessed by the lanista, a doctor and the gladiator's trainers. He would be checked by a medici (a doctor, not to be confused with the doctores) for any medical problems and whether he was physically suitable to train as a gladiator and equipped to withstand the rigours of training and combat. The Gladiator's trainers who worked in the school were often retired gladiators who specialised in specific combat styles and weapons. The trainers were called Doctores. A Doctor who trained the types of gladiator called a Retiarius would be called Doctores Retiarii or one who trained Secutores, Doctores secutorum.

In this life I studied spiders for my thesis and became a Doctor!

Favourite fictional characters Dr Who and Spider-Man.

So thank you my Spider friends for teaching me.


Update September 29, 2014.

I'm pleased to report that Erik the Web 42.1 is doing well and enjoying a surfeit of Crane Flies.

As you can see he quickly catches them once in his web. Then wraps them up and tows them off to his pad.

Today however he's decided that he can enjoy a tasty snack in the centre of his web.

The weather is cloudy so he probably feels secure from sharp eyed birds.

Fresh food on the hoof! Nothing better 1 of his 5 a day

Update September 30, 2014

Today the anti was upped! A wasp flew into the conservator. A suitable aggressive gladiator for Erik the Web so I gathered my collecting pot and disturbed the air flow using my painting overall. The resultant loss of aero dynamic wing effect causes heavy insects to suddenly lose lift similar to Aircraft experiencing turbulence. On the third attempt the wasp tumbled and lurked sideways in the roof. It was immediately trapped in a near invisible web!

Still buzzing I reached for my clear plastic collecting pot but was then beaten to the drop by a tiny

Zygiella x-notata

Web spider the proud owner of the web.

A David and Goliath contest then ensued! No way was my first thought as Zyggy seemed hopelessly out matched in this gladiatorial contest.

A couple of quick nips to the legs and retreat did the trick. Within a minute the wasp was subdued and it was all over by the shouting.

Distracted I was diverted only to find when I returned that Zyggy had hauled off his prize to his lair even though it was 5 to 1 in the weigh off!!!

Zyggy achieved this prodigious feat by attaching silk threads and then cutting the anchoring web strands. As with the World's strongest man towing a truck using a rope it works!

Lateral force required is much less than a lifting force.

Morale of the story:

It's not the size that counts! Plus sneaky is best!

Update October 28, 2014

Erik the Web continues to thrive and I managed to photograph a gladiatorial combat with a Wasp. They really make striking opponents but it was no contest. Erik triumphed with ease.

Click on images for high res view.

The capture

Nice bite and inject venom.

Leave to baste

5 minutes should do it.

Enjoy at leisure

Retire to sleep it off after a hard day at the office.

Sep 08, '14
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