You may notice in the photo, between the mouse figurine and the medication bottle, a little spider. With its previous moult exoskeleton hanging above. If you really look, you’ll see that there is greater clarity in a circle around the spider. This is Charlotte’s cave.
Charlotte has been a very subdued presence on the kitchen sill, hanging out at the mouth of her cave but retreating whenever I startle her. As she has been such an effective hunter there, I decided not to interfere – there’s no need. But, since I had to wreck her extended web today by taking away the medication bottle (using a pair of chopsticks), I got to remove a lot of the exoskeletons of herself and her prey, and I was really quite surprised how small she started out when she moved in – she was a very tiny spider. Now, she’s a bold thing with a leg span greater than a 25¢ piece, when she comes out of her cave. Since the destruction of the cave, she hides behind the mouse figurine.
Last week, for two nights in a row, after more than a week without prey coming to her finely spun web wound round the frame of the window and various doodads not pictured above, she got off the window sill and wrapped a new web around the – I kid you not – handle of the kitchen faucet. The first morning I just removed the web, but after the second morning, I felt a little sorry for her because the energy expenditure to do that work must mean she was hungry. I left the web intact, and just handled the faucet when I needed to use it. The web would sag with the direction the handle was throttled. Eventually the web tore off and I discarded the excess.
I am sure she will build a new web configuration overnight. If it starts expanding again, I might have to relocate her, with great care, to the outside or to my garage. I have guests coming on the weekend and I won’t be around to supervise – I don’t want to freak them out too much. A sticky note with her name on it is insufficient information to say “this spider is ok by me.”
An update: Charlotte moved her web over to the left corner of the window, which is a great spot for her.
Second update (August, 2012):
The orb-weaver spider, which we have in Quebec and is perhaps all over the world, weaves a web between plants in meadows. Because it is so energetically costly to weave a web, the spider creates a zig-zag pattern across with silk that is coated with proteins that show up in UV light (or else the zig-zag renders the view more obvious), so that birds don’t fly through in pursuit of insects. This idea is now being applied to glass, to reduce bird impacts. Read about it on the BBC website.
Also published on Medium.