Yesterday I was a little depressed and disbelieving having spotted the first Christmas lights in a local town in the middle of November. The lights and tinsel, twinkling in their gaudy way, reminded me just how few days there are before I get to open a requisite gift from Mole Valley Farmers and over-cook (or even worse under-cook) the turkey. I have managed both.
This morning I gazed – uplifted, yet almost equally disbelieving – at nature’s own magnificent display of glistening strands: spiders’ webs. Everywhere. The world seemed outlined in silk. The hedges, pastures and gates were all delicately draped in metres and metres of spider spinning. My guess is that it is always there but was this morning made visible by a damp night followed by a morning frost: the ‘pearls’ of water droplets had frozen along the gossamer threads. I was in the usual school run haste but just had to stop and stare. And breathe deeply and enjoy.
This wonderful display also led me to some fascinating arachnid fact-finding. Apparently all spiders have spinning glands and make several kinds of silk, possibly the strongest of all natural and man-made fibres, but only half of all species actually catch prey in their webs. Some will hunt their prey instead and one type actually makes a sticky bolus to catch a moth as it flies past! My veterinary interest was piqued by reading that all males make a sperm-line to transfer their sperm from their genitals to the copulating organ. The octopodal world is certainly interesting.
So I do love spiders and their amazing creations. Without them the world would be both more fly-ridden and less beautiful.