As I stood on the patio checking on the wrestling status of the dogs and to make sure they were not scaling the fence to escape into the swamp, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye that I didn’t quite truly believe. To make sure I wasn’t seeing things I put on my glasses and confirmed my initial thought. It was not a pleasant sight.
I have seen many strange things in my garden in the twenty years I have lived here but I have to admit I have never seen anything like this. In case it is not clear, that is a large female garden spider dead in the web of a large female garden spider. At first I suspected that the spider had shed her skin and what I was seeing was the shell, but on closer inspection it became obvious that that was not the case. I honestly have never heard of this happening. I understand from research that quite often the female garden spider will eat the dead male garden spider after mating but I cannot find anything to indicate that they actually prey on each other. I am not sure how this came about, perhaps it was a territory war in which the dead spider lost the battle, as the web is in a prime piece of real estate as far as a spider is concerned, that being attached to the Mexican Sunflowers and Lantana both of which attract a large amount of prey that the spider would be interested in. In any event I found it distinctly creepy.
As I returned to the house I could hear what appeared to be a crunching sound. I looked to where the sound was coming from and saw another bizarre sight.
In this case the garden spider had obviously caught something large and powerful in her web and was attempting to subdue it. Whatever it was (it was impossible to tell) it had powerful enough jaws that it was eating its way out of the shroud that she was building for it. It was also obviously tough enough that the venom that she had injected it with was having no effect, because it was clearly moving its legs inside the shroud no matter how many layers of silk she spun around it. She kept spinning and spinning and spinning attempting to subdue it, but every time she moved away from the mouth area in an attempt to keep the legs from bursting free, it again began to eat away at the top of the shroud with its powerful jaws. When I checked on it later, she had obviously managed to get enough venom into it that it gave up the struggle and she had her prize neatly stored in her pantry.
I am constantly surprised by my garden’s ability to constantly surprise me, even after all these years.