If you’re lucky and you know what to look for, you can watch mini wildlife documentaries unfolding in front of you. Back in late May I was lucky to witness mesh-web weavers courting and mating; I’m writing it up (including photos and video) because I couldn’t easily find anything else online about this intriguing behaviour.
So last November, I found dozens of tiny baby orbweavers in my bathroom. They were probably the offspring of the big grey cross spider who lived just outside the window, feeding on insects attracted to the building lights.
It was bad timing. Grey cross spiders do most of their courting and mating in the fall. The spiders guard their egg sacs into the winter, until they die. In spring, the babies emerge and go their separate ways. Most will die soon after; a lucky few will survive to continue the cycle. I don’t know why this batch hatched.
I painstakingly evicted at least a dozen, but the next day they were back. I decided to let nature take its course. Over the next few weeks, they gradually disappeared, to starvation or cannibalism or other insect predators. Then, one day, I saw one I’d missed. She had woven the tiniest of webs in the basil plant on the kitchen windowsill. All her siblings had died, but somehow she had made her way to this small oasis.
It was one thing to let the spiders starve to death when they were just black specks on the bathroom ceiling, but I felt a vague sense of responsibility to this lone survivor, and decided to keep her alive as long as I could.
If you follow my Instagram you’ll see that I spend most of my spider-watching time on the western waterfront. There’s an abundance of diverse spider habitats all along the Martin Goodman Trail, but there are several parks that are worth dedicated visits. Here’s a tour…
So last month, as part of my goal to find spiders in more locations around the city, I took myself on an outing to Corktown Common. The land, once belonging to a hog slaughterhouse (hey, Toronto’s called “Hogtown” for a reason), was reclaimed and redeveloped as part of the West Don Lands revitalization. Continue reading Spider Excursion: Corktown Common
Most wild animals are either indifferent or fearful towards humans, preferring to run away when they realize a human has noticed them — or attack when they cannot escape. Spiders are no different in this regard. Many of them are too short-sighted, or live on too small a scale, to recognize humans as other animals and not, say, unusually mobile parts of the landscape. If they do, they deduce that we are neither food nor fellow spiders (for spiders, generally antisocial creatures, these overlap considerably), and they try to get out of our way.
After finding a meadow chock-full of wolf spiders on the southeastern edge of High Park, I resolved to go back and catch a few so I could take more detailed photos. It took planning and a bit of trial and error, but I’m very pleased with the results and am going to try it again sometime! Continue reading Wolf spider photoshoot!