Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wednesday Vignette: Who rolled out the welcome mat?

Spiders and insects are a constant presence in our semi-rural area.  Walking through my garden in late September through October without a broom or something to sweep away the nearly invisible spider webs stretched across my path guarantees that I'll get my face wrapped in sticky, silky threads.  I'm not afraid of spiders but I don't know anyone who doesn't find that experience at least a little creepy.  I generally think of October as "spider season" as that's when spiders make their presence known, building webs to capture insects before they lay their eggs.  For some reason, our resident spiders are off to an early start this year.  We've walked into webs at regular intervals for weeks already but last week we woke up to a scene from a horror film - webs were everywhere!

Fortunately for us, the morning marine layer covered the webs in dew, making them much more visible.

This one, stretched across the flagstone path in the front garden, was perhaps 3 feet in diameter - and it wasn't the only one in that area.  Moving through the area without breaking one or more of them would have required limbo skills more advanced than those I possess.

This one in the south side garden also adjoined a path.  There's usually another one across the arbor to the left but I think my husband had already walked through that one.

This photogenic web was woven through a Leucadendron in the back garden.  Smaller webs covered portions of Acacia 'Cousin Itt' in the background.

Another Leucadendron on the other end of the backyard garden was also decorated in fine silk strands

The top of the Xylosma hedges were also covered.  I'm guessing that each of these small webs was the creation of a separate spider.

Other webs hung over the Arbutus 'Marina'


That's a very small sample of the webs we found.  I know spiders are useful insect predators and I don't go out of my way to harm them but I didn't hesitate to clear those strung across my main pathways either.  I conducted a little research in an effort to determine why the spiders have thrown themselves into massive web-building exercise on an earlier schedule this year.  I didn't find any references to our current circumstances in Southern California but comments on similar situations suggest that early web-building may signify an early fall and winter.  If true, that would be great!

Do you have a favorite spider movie?  Mine is Arachnophobia.



For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

29 comments:

  1. Growing up I was terrified of spiders but have since learned to respect their roles. The webs do look pretty when adorned with dew drops. It feels very much like Fall here too (Alberta). The birds are emptying the feeders daily and there are large flocks moving through. We have not had much of a summer so not looking forward to an early end. Elaine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I was influenced more by 'Charlotte's Web' than Miss Muffett when it comes to spiders, although I prefer to keep a respectful distance from them, Elaine. Summer here has been more warm than hot this year, for which I'm grateful, but I still prefer our cool season over our long, dry warm-to-hot season and look forward to its arrival.

      Delete
  2. That's a look that evokes September here. The spider webs are there right now, but the morning mists that make them so visible don't start until the nights get cool again (*can't wait*!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Luckily, our morning marine layer has been more resilient than usual this summer, keeping our daytime temperatures on the lower end of the spectrum, at least so far. A ridge of high pressure occasionally pushes the marine layer out and raises our temperatures (as it's doing right now) but the marine influence has been bouncing back on a regular basis. We call it "May Gray" and "June Gloom" when it's present earlier in the year but we don't have a good name for its summer manifestation, although one commentator has suggested "Fogust."

      Delete
  3. You got some wonderful shots of the dew-covered webs. We have the same thing going on here, early spider webs everywhere. I keep walking into them. Do you ever hear a "snap!" when you do? That's usually my signal that I've inadvertently walked into one of the anchoring strands. The other clue of course is the inevitable faceful of web. We are getting some misty rain again today, which also seems to indicate an early autumn. Spiders inside the house meet an untimely death, because I'm afraid of them. Outside I respect their role in the garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm really hoping that the spiders have it right in anticipating an early fall here but the science folks at NOAA are saying that El Nino is well and truly over and there's no clear outlook one way or another as to whether SoCal will get cooler temperatures and rain as fall creeps nearer, or whether we'll heat up in September and rain will be pushed well into the winter months. *SIGH*

      Delete
  4. Wow, clearly you have a web season! I don't like to walk through them either, which happens when we walk our trails in the morning. So what do you do, hold a broom in front of you as you sweep the air from side to side? That'll get the neighbors talking. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I imagine the construction workers thought I was a little bonkers, walking through the garden waving a broom, Eliza! What'll they think when I start up my annual rain dances? ;) Maybe it'll encourage them to get cracking on our project so they can get well away from the craziness.

      Delete
    2. Hey, whatever works to get them moving faster! ;)

      Delete
  5. Ha ha - couldn't watch the whole trailer. I've been seeing and feeling the anchoring strands but the whole webs have been elusive. It's early here too, so I hope that does mean an early fall. Our hot, dry but humid summer started in May, which was way too early, and is still continuing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have a similar view of summer's "charms" it seems, Barbara.
      We've been really lucky thus far to avoid any terrible, lingering bouts with heat but I'm still apprehensive that the other shoe may drop. NOAA has come to the determination that El Nino's input on our weather is now kerplunk and we've entered a "neutral zone" where conditions could go either way. But I'm going to put my faith in the spiders for now.

      Delete
  6. We already have them up here in Portland, too. I kept thinking they were making themselves known unusually early, and your post confirmed those feelings. Our summer has been positively dreamy (from a heat shy Swede's perspective, anyway) and will be ever so happy to slide into autumn without another 90+ day. I know many who disagree, but I'm okay with that. I've LOVED this summer! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Although I've got Scandinavian roots on both sides of the family, I was born and raised in SoCal so you might think I'd have a higher tolerance for summer heat but, growing up in an inland valley that got hotter and hotter every year from middle school on, I came to dread summer. We've had an unusually mild summer thus far, which has been great, but I still eagerly anticipate fall's arrival.

      Delete
  7. I have pretty much the same approach to spider webs. I leave most of them up, but when they're across my path...well, a gardener has to get through. They are beautiful, though. Interestingly, I haven't seen many webs yet. I hope that means you'll have an early fall (because you want it) and I won't (because I don't want it). Our growing season is too short as it is. Lovely vignettes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I expect I might feel differently about summer too if we didn't have a year-round growing season, Beth. Summer here is the closest thing we have to a down season as planting anything during our hot, dry season is a risky proposition (says she who just received a delivery of 4 mail-order plants...).

      Delete
  8. A little creepy to walk into webs, yes. Great photos of the spiders’ handiwork in early morning. It’s hot as blazes here but every once in a while I get a momentary sense that fall is on its way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I continue to send little prayers of thanks to Mother Nature for cutting us some slack in the heat department this summer, Susie. I hope she comes through with a sustained cool-down for you soon!

      Delete
  9. I love spiders & all they do to keep insect populations down, but they do give me the heebie jeebies. Unlike with most other insects and worms, I shudder at the prospect of picking one up with my bare hands - we actually keep a cup and piece of cardboard at the ready to relocate spiders that have wandered indoors. And I have to admit, whenever I run into a web (which thankfully isn't all that often around here), I will do the "just ran into a web" dance as I try to wipe off the unseen spider that may now be crawling on me ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha!. We keep a plastic container and cardboard on hand to catch lizards the cat brings in from her "catio." I do the web dance too.

      Delete
  10. I got a face wrapped in web the other morning and let out one of my infamous screams -- no idea how I muster such sounds but it's like a force of nature. I immediately shouted "spider!" so none of the neighbors called the police. I pulled my hair down from the clip and shook it out for a few minutes and then asked for a spider inspection from the next human I saw. And I'm so glad for you and Hoov, to corroborate my own "field studies." She mentioned the August bloom of hippeastrum too, which I found odd but wasn't sure it was anything remarkable. I've been carrying a stick every morning to break up webs, which seemed very early in the season. And I like spiders! Just not on me...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I yelp rather than scream, then rough my my hair and shake out my clothes but the fact that, on one occasion, I found a spider in my bangs a couple of hours later suggests that nothing beyond ducking in a shower may be truly effective. Despite this post, knowing that the spiders are already out in force, I walked right into a web yesterday during a search for my watering can :(

      Delete
  11. Wow, what an amazing sight, a bit creepy though, your garden is all set up for Halloween.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since the spiders moved in early this year, I'm hoping they'll pack up and leave before Halloween, Chloris!

      Delete
  12. You got some great web photos! Things haven't ramped up here quite yet (my garden, it sounds like they have over at Anna's), which is fine by me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could get my spiders to move into someone else's garden...They're relentless web-builders.

      Delete
  13. I'm not a fan of spiders at all Kris but appreciate what they do and also the beauty of their webs. Here they already dangling down from windows - a sure sign of the year turning. Your webs look ginormous - maybe your spiders are bigger than ours 😄

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think most are orb-weavers but some of them are big, Anna! I disturbed yet another web this morning and its weaver went scrambling (fortunately not in my direction).

      Delete
  14. I was just thinking today that it is almost time for spider season. No big webs here yet, however. Yours are impressive! Now you have me wanting to see Arachnophobia again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As horror movies go, Arachnophobia is pretty funny and tame, although the swarming spiders still gave me the creeps.

      Delete

I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions!