Grit Blogs > Homesteading with Mrs D

The Amazing Spider Woman

By Robyn Dolan 


Tags: spider, water tank,

Spider woman on her web.

Robyn DolanIt’s after dark on a hot August night. The stars are a network of diamonds on a blanket of black velvet. It almost seems that if I climb up to the top of my water tank and reach out, I could grasp one right out of the clear Northern Arizona sky.

Instead, the beam of my flashlight illuminates a perfect, symmetrical web of sticky, delicate silk. It spans the hand-breadth distance between the edge of the water tank and an input hose. It seems as though a touch, a sharply expelled breath could destroy it, yet in reality it is quite strong. In the center, its maker freezes momentarily as my light captures her amber colored abdomen, the size of a hummingbird egg, and her fuzzy orange striped legs. Then she scurries to the edge of the web to continue her work and resume her night’s hunting.

This spider has an abdomen the size of a hummingbird egg.

Spiderwoman has been in residence at the top of my water tank for at least 2 months. When I first discovered her, I was so intrigued that I allowed her to remain. Not so, her kin spider in my tack shed. Unfortunately, my camera and photographic skills do not do justice to the delicate beauty of her nightly weaving ritual or the intricate patterns on her abdomen and legs.

Spider against the white of the water tank

Fast forward to September. The web is dusty and ragged. A gaping hole in the center raises red flags. My lady has been lax in her housekeeping. Spiderwoman is in her usual spot at the top of my tank. But is she still alive? A few days later and she is gone. A life cycle completed?

robyn dolan
10/23/2009 1:56:25 PM

I hope so, Cindy;)


cindy murphy
10/22/2009 7:38:08 AM

Lovely post, Robyn. It reminds me so much of a friend of mine, who for the past two years has had a "Spiderwoman" of her own outside her window. It's what we call a 'garden spider' here; a big and beautiful black, white, and yellow one that increases considerably in size as the summer progresses. My friend regards these spiders as welcome visitors, and always regrets the coming of the season's end with a sadness reserved for the completion of these beauties' life cycle. With any luck though, next year she'll have another visitor spending the summer with her outside the window. Maybe your water tank will have the same.