Spiders are extremely beneficial and along with bats make a significant dent in the population of destructive and disease-producing insects. Estimates are that each spider eats about 2000 insects per year and even though there are approximately 45,000 species, only a few spiders are poisonous to humans. The Araneus diadematus or Cross Orbweaver, a fairly common northern spider, rarely if ever, bites and is quite clean, consuming her web just about every night and weaving a new one by morning. She prefers staying outdoors and the only residue you are likely to find will be the blackened and digested insect bodies on the ground below her web.
A lovely, graceful arachnid
Known as the Cross Orbweaver.
Not “cross” as in agitated
But “cross” as in a pattern:
White splotches like inclusions of white quartz
In a piece of butterscotch agate.
Neatly forming a cross on her bulbous back.
She, larger than he,
Is hungry for fly protein;
While he, for nectar, pollen,
She weaves incredibly strong traps
Strung amongst diverse flyways
To snare unsuspecting insects
As they flit, fly and flutter by,
Snagging mosquitoes and wasps
Drawn to the backyard barbecue,
And snaring night-flying moths
Searching for plants to lay in their eggs,
Or beckoned by the porch lights.
Spider spins the victim
Shrouding black and yellow wasps in silk,
Spreading thick digestive juices
Softening the insect-style burrito,
Sucking in its health to feed
Countless generations of lives
Within her body; yet to be conceived,
But seated, waiting.
From dawn to dusk and round again,
Building, tending, shrouding, ingesting.
If zeroed out, she’ll eat her web
And survive on minuscule pollen grains
Stuck tight to her orbicular weavings.
She’ll continue to grow plump into the autumn,
Shedding multiple outer skins
While holding future lives,
Within eggs to be laid in golden sacs
Hatched and clustered,
Awaiting the next springtime’s zephyrs to tease
Slender ballooning silks aloft
Taking the spiderlings on a journey
Along their own spiral weaves.
Please make room in your lives for a few Cross Orbweavers. Approach gently with good intentions and they’ll accept you in to watch their lives unfold in the most intimate of ways. Until our next journey, take care.