Thursday, August 31, 2006

"Living in the Shadows"

According to Wikipedia, that is what the latin species name for the Walnut Orb-Weaver Spider (nuctenea umbratica) means. Another web site translates it as "fond of idling, in retirement." Well, either name accurately describes our side view mirror resident, which I have finally positively identified! Last night, I was able to get the clearest picture yet which I then compared to numerous photos on spider identification web sites. Apparently, this is a very common spider found throughout Europe. It typically hides under bark or in other dark crevices awaiting prey (holding a monitoring line to its web which alerts it if it's caught something).

Descriptions I read used words like "ominous looking" and "sinister" but the most amusing thing I found was the London Natural History Museum's list of "bite reports" which read as follows:

'Felt like a puncture from a bramble thorn. Site of the bite slightly raised and white (no reddening). Pain gone after 6 hours.'

'Pain like an electric shock from finger to elbow with the arm going numb; recovered after a few hours.'

'Itchiness and hot feeling on arm, large red patch (2" x 4") became worse within hour, plus white lumps; horrible burning feeling - felt bruised for some days.'

Though they are slow moving, I now know to keep my distance in future photos sessions.

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