A daddy long legs in the corner of the bathroom sends me shrieking and gasping in search of my husband. He gets to proudly tell me he has saved me from a spider - at least once a week.
Some of my most favorite fragrant roses occupy the right rear of our four main rose beds. I was horrified to discover that a garter snake and white flower spider also call that particular rosebed home.
Now, I have nothing against spiders and snakes as long as they live in an alternate universe or at least keep their distance from me. These are simply too close for comfort.
One of the roses in that bed is Fragrant Cloud, a fragrant orange hybrid tea rose that fills the bed with a fruity, citrusy, spicy perfume reminiscent of damask roses. It's been covered with sprays of blossoms for weeks and the other day, as I prepared to inhale deeply from an open bloom, I found myself eyeball to eyeball with what looked like a white skull on legs.
A large white spider with almost translucent white legs sat perched on an adjoining fading flower petal. I decided to give him wide berth and return later to enjoy my rose, after my blood pressure returned to normal.
|A crab spider (Misumena vatia) on the roe Fragrant Cloud.|
No matter the time of day - early in the morning when the blooms are covered with dew, mid-afternoon with the sun blazing hot, or in the evening when all good little spiders should be tucked in bed, fast asleep, he's there like a sentry who never leaves his post.
If the on-line references I've checked about white garden spiders are accurate, I'm in for a long summer with this fellow.
White flower spiders are territorial squatters. They stake their claim and patrol a particular flower. It will be interesting to see if he is still hanging out on that particular rose bush when we return home from a week in New York City.
Often called goldenrod spiders, they have such a fondness for goldenrod blossoms, they actually have developed the physical ability to change their color to golden yellow as an adaptive protective mechanism so they blend in with the color of the blooms and aren't so visible to predators.
Steve and I are both allergic to goldenrod and we are constantly pulling it up. Recently I dug several huge plants out of the adjacent perennial bed. This is clearly payback for us having removed his preferred habitat. How was I to know that I was razing a spider condo?
|You van get a sense of the size when you see it in the context of a blossom. It was over an inch across with his legs extended.|
|Waiting for his meal to happen along.....|
|I was able to watch from a safe distance with my camera's telephoto lens,|
|He hung out on the same blossom even after it was totally devoid of petals. Eventually he moved to a different bloom. And he was around for most of the summer, on the same rose shrub.|
|Clinging to the underside of a leaf as he moves from one bloom to another.|
|Suspended by a whisper thin thread, he quickly pulled himself back onto the leaf when I approached the rose.|
Our newest hose has the same color pattern and it never fails to give rise to heart palpitations when my husband leaves it lying in the walkway to our cottage gardens and I glimpse it out of the corner of my eye.
The snake has made his way into the perennial bed and the water garden, and I don't really care to hear any more lectures about how "helpful" he is or how "cute" he is (NOT!). My feeling is that he doesn't pay rent and I am out there working. He can go live outside the fence.
My phobia is so extreme, I was terrified to weed the perennial beds and deadhead the roses. The solution has been to send the dogs after him, which sends him slithering away, through the fence and into the meadow. Both Toughie and Katie delight in chasing anything that slithers, skitters, or runs through the garden back into the conservation area and Toughie prides himself on making sure they stay there!
|Toughie chases any garden invaders small enough to fit through the fencing back into the conservation area|
|Katie often helps Toughie chase uninvited guests from the garden and the two of them together are a formidable team. Katie has a particular dislike for snakes which I find very reassuring.|