My wife and I were enjoying some post-ice-cream-cone time at a local playground with my sister-in-law and her two boys yesterday. While the kids enjoyed the slide and swings, I was distracted by the thick patch of tall grass bordering the shores of the Nation River. During these later days of summer and into autumn, a familiar resident of grassy habitats can usually be found:
Female Black and Yellow Garden Spider, Argiope aurantia
The thing with these spiders is, once you spot one, you can usually spot GAZILLIONS of them once you fine-tune your search image. I don’t know if they’re siblings that just stick close to home or if some grassy bits are particularly favourable and draw unrelated animals to the same area, but they nearly always hang out in groups. Our four-year-old nephew, Jacob, was drawn into my hunt and was soon spotting them left, right and centre (I think he had an advantage because they were mostly at his eye level!) among the dense greenery.
We were almost exclusively finding females of various sizes, but at one point I found something a little different:
Male and female Black and Yellow Garden Spider, Argiope aurantia
This skinny little fella in the foreground is a male of the same species – there’s quite a difference in size, as is often the case with spiders. This can often work out very unfavorably for the male (reproductive fitness notwithstanding!).
I took one look at this little tableau of life, death and reproduction and couldn’t help but recall an episode of Green Porno, a series of short films that I have geeked out over previously. Very inappropriately, I felt compelled to recite, out loud, the last two lines of the clip, and then giggled wildly to myself.
The four-year-old accompanying me, who I’d momentarily forgotten, looked at me quizzically but didn’t say anything. I don’t think I’ve scarred him with my lapse of responsible adult-ish behaviour (or language?), but we’ll see (the kid’s got a memory like an elephant, so, Vickie, if Jacob starts taking about “epigynes”, I’m sorry).
In the meantime, those in the PG-13+ crowd should most DEFINITELY watch this video, if you haven’t already:
*Nards, I can’t seem to embed the vid, so here’s the link