Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Danger: Spiders!!

I thought I would do a little show-and-tell. Like so many other people, I too randomly take photos of things that I like and are interested in, no matter how freaky they may be to someone else. So today I will be presenting some scary spiders! As well as some pretty flowers and yummy treats. Maybe I should start with those.

Mr. C recently went to the Czech Republic on business. It was his first time going to Europe so he was excited (in a calm, guy-like way) and I've never been to Europe so I was jealous (in a happy, kind, and encouraging way). I insisted that he bring back some of their sweets (because it's a well known fact that candy is a solid indicator of how lovely a country is). He didn't have much time to himself on the trip so he managed to bring back only a few things.

The Tatranky was very good. It's basically just a crispy wafer bar, nothing too exotic. Mine had a hazelnut flavor (yum!). I haven't really had anything like the Milka Yoghurt bar though. It was really delicious!! The taste of yogurt wrapped up in sweetness and creamy chocolate was great. I'd like to get my hands on some more of those. And if you are interested, there seems to be a decent bit of information on their Purple Cow logo... Who'd'a thunk.

Now this Jamaican Caper flower can be found in my mother's backyard. Isn't it a pretty little thing?? It's a plant native to Florida (which is where I live) so it fits perfectly with the rest of her native-plant landscape. Since "going native" my Mother's backyard has become home to an unbelievable number of butterflies! Walking out back you're usually able to spot at least four fluttering around, and where there's four there's usually more.

Continuing on with the wildlife theme, here are some pretty Green Igunanas that were sunbathing outside our condo. Just hanging around, eating grass I suppose. I do believe the brighter green one is younger (although I think they're both pretty young). I tried to be stealthy in getting my photos, but they are paranoid little buggers! They ran as soon as I cracked open my patio screen door. Ah well, I'm glad to know they're afraid of humans - probably better that way.

And now for some creepy crawly nature. Not only does my Mom's garden attract butterflies, it also attracts spiders!! ::evil laughter:: I've seen two really impressive spider-happenings in that backyard. The first was a miracle of life - the hatching of a bunch of baby spiders! It kind of made my skin crawl to look at it, but at the same time how cool is it to see a whole nest of tiny little spiders?? Tiny little Charlotte's running off to start their own little lives. I just had to get pictures. If I can assume that the adult spider hanging out in the web with them was their Mommy, then I think they were Orchard Spiders. I did a lot of googling and am pretty confident that they're Orchard Spiders.

The next spider experience was just the opposite: the miracle of death! This spider (after much googling) appears to be a Silver Argiope. She (I think it was a she for some reason) was busily wrapping up her prize to ripen for another meal. And the truly disturbing part was that if you looked closely you could see the silken package wiggling around as though whatever was in it was desperately trying to get free (as I'm sure it was). Eeeps! But that's how life works I guess. I've never actually seen a spider in action. I could see the tiny strand of silk being pulled out of her spinnerets as she worked.

Nearby was another Silver Argiope just hanging out in her web. If you're an observant student (or if you have eyeballs to see with) you may have noticed that their webs have extra...web on them. The Silver Argiope is part of a group of spiders called Orb Weavers. They do interesting things with their webs and no one really knows why. But there are some ideas! Ideas are fun.

So the extra web-stuff is called a stabilimentum. Older spiders will build the "X" shaped stabilimentum, while younger ones tend to make that circle shape. The possible explanations are: extra support for the web; to attract prey; to make it visible to birds so they don't fly into the web and destroy it. There are a few more, but those are my favorites. I think it's all pretty interesting!

I had fun taking these pictures and seeing the different wildlife in my neck of the woods. It's neat to know what's out there. Oh, and in case anyone was curious, neither of the spiders are poisonous, so no worries there. Hope no one has nightmares!!!

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