Friday, August 19, 2016

"It Was Big Enough To Nab A Horse"...

Bananas Not Included...
About a year ago, I spent the summer at a platation home in St. Francisville working on a film as a storyboard artist. I had a up stairs bedroom with my own bathroom and a door leading out to the back porch. For a while, it was great to go out to the porch and have a lunch overlooking a bevy of trees and a small lake to forget the deadlines and changes that always seem to make this job more difficult.

I say, for a while, because one morning, out of nowhere parked in the middle of the porch doorway this humongous spider. For the next four or five weeks this animal, which with legs and all was about as large as a long shoreman's hand. It seemed every morning there was some new insect or farm animal stuck in the web of this yellow monster with a head full of cold, emotionless black eyes.

Well, three weeks after cutting a bunch of tree branches that were hanging on top of the roof, I finally decided to clean up the mess I created. I casually walked between two large pin oak trees that are about ten feet apart from each other and found myself caught up in what seemed to be monafilament fishing line. In the blink of an eye, I was being sized up by a half dozen little black eyes.

The underside of the female...
I swatted at it as I untangled myself from the spider's web and ran to the protection of one of the trees. I noticed the badass spider also took off for the shelter of the opposite tree. We both looked around the trees from afar, sized each other up and decided to leave well enough alone.

I came out later to take a few pictures in order to find out exactly who the visitor was and investigate its "modus operandi". I found it's commonly called a banana spider and to be a native. This particular spider is the only species of the genus Nephila to be found in the Western Hemisphere. They live in warm regions, from North Carolina and across the Gulf States through Central America, as far south as Argentina, and in the West Indies (found extensively throughout Puerto Rico).

Well, the good news is that the spider is a beneficial predator and it doesn't eat people. And, oh yeh, it's silk is being investigated as a component of bullet proof vests. That should tell you something!

Copyright 2016/ Ben Bensen III

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