Since none of our resident arachnids are particularly dangerous or threatening, I’ve often stopped to admire them. Their geometric, weaving skills are a natural wonder, and having cast their nets widely, they wait with the patience of fishermen, for the catch. Tiny insects blown in on the gentlest of breezes or fliers who fail to spot the hazard lines and career headlong to their nemesis. Quick as a flash, out comes the spider to shrink-wrap the flailing flounderer.
In late Autumn the wily wasps appear. When not pestering picnickers or turning out in force for the last of the season’s barbecues, they patrol spiders’ webs. I watched them working their way down some railings, where webs in abundance were strung across the uprights. Hovering perilously close to the sticky threads, a wasp would suddenly dive in to the net, and out again, carrying off the little parcel of wrapped food that the spider has so carefull prepared.
This raiding party tactic has to be admired for sheer daring alone, especially as sometimes the timing will be off and the thief becomes the victim. Maybe it’s desperation too – the worker wasps driven to find food when the stores in the nest have emptied. It is the beginning of the end too, for by late Autumn, the colony will have perished…but the spider often hibernates to see another Spring.