I love those days when I have a few moments and can pay attention to the world around me. It never ceases to fill me with awe and wonder. And today was such as I had a free hour that I chose to spend on the dock.
I shouldn’t have been surprised to see a fishing spider the size of my palm resting there, but I was for it was my first sighting of one this year. True confession, indoors I’m not a huge spider fan and as a kid I used to holler for someone to come kill any arachnid I spied. But . . . with age comes appreciation. And perhaps understanding.
And so I appreciated this spider’s pattern and understood the need for its hairy body that gave it such a scary look. Fishing spiders hunt by sensing vibrations. The hair is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water. It also allows the spider to actually walk on water to get its prey. Those bristly hairs also trap air bubbles that the spider uses to breathe when it waits underwater to ambush a meal, be it insects, tadpoles, or other invertebrates.
When I heard wing beats behind me, I turned my focus away from Charlotte and toward a Lancet Clubtail dragonfly that had landed on a seat of My Guy’s boat. An ant marched right over to check it out.
And I fully expected the Lance to eat the ant. But . . . he didn’t. Drats. I like watching them consume their prey.
The more I looked at this guy, and it was a guy based on its cercus, the more I noticed, including the fact that it was missing the tarsi or claw-like foot of one leg.
It was his face though, that I really wanted to study. I found this simplified picture at arizonadragonfly.org, and though it’s not complete, it provided enough information for my purposes.
There’s so much to learn, that to add more detail would be more than overwhelming. Look at the mouth parts. And those eyes–each is composed of 30,000 lenses. Apparently, they can see ultraviolet and polarized light. And then there’s the ocelli, or visual organs, that probably work along with the antennae. Prey don’t have a chance.
When the Lance flew away, I checked on Charlotte again. Still she sat, one leg dangling below the dock board and touching a web. I figured she was waiting for movement to announce that a meal had arrived.
And then I noticed that it wasn’t a meal, but perhaps a mate she’d been expecting.
Suddenly, he darted under the dock and she started across the gap–toward me!
Then she stopped, seemed to make an adjustment, and quickly disappeared.
I moved in for a closer look and made a discovery.
Her nursery! Fishing spiders are nursery web spiders. She must have wrapped her eggs in a silken sac and carried it to the gap between the outer two boards of the dock, where she constructed the web. And she was standing guard waiting for her spiderlings to emerge–until I came along. Now the question remains, will I be around when they do hatch and disperse on their own silken threads?
I don’t know. But today, I was there to notice so much in such a short time–as the world passed by.