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Old 04-17-2009, 09:28 AM   #1
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Default Causeway spiders

I commute the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana twice a day. (Still the longest bridge in the world, 24 miles each way. You can see it at Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge).

I've noticed, when stopped for a wreck or the bridge is up, that little spiders have built webs in the corners of all of the rails on the southbound bridge, now over 50 years old. And I wonder ... how did they get there? That's a heck of a treck, at least 12 miles to the middle from either side. I wish I could collect & study a few. ID them, see how they've become specialized. Are they gray-er? They survive hurricanes, have never seen a tree or a blade of grass, and live entirely on airborne bugs (LOTS of mosquitoes).

And okay, so I'm silly, but I have this vision in my mind ... Star Trek music in the background ... James T. Spider setting out ... to boldly go where no spider has gone before.
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Old 04-17-2009, 10:41 AM   #2
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Leslie, I have crossed that bridge a few times, it is always disconcerting until reaching the other side.
Space travel is a good analogy. Just like space the first step need not be all the way. A young spider makes its way onto the foot of the bridge and each generation goes a bit further.
Spiders do crawl distances but the real migration is in the air via ballooning while young and very small. Strands of web floating on the air lift the tiny young spiders often great distances. Some have been known to land on ships at sea.
Quote:
Walt Whitman
"A noiseless, patient spider, I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament out of itself:
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space.
Ceaselessly, musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them.
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul."
On Six Legs

So it is an adventure fraught with danger and excitment,yes?
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Old 04-17-2009, 11:20 AM   #3
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Here in California we have a lot of spiders - all over. I have always wondered how they make webs that span distances that are much, much longer than the distance from them to the ground. It seems physically impossible since they can't really swing across without hitting the ground. Any ideas?
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Old 04-17-2009, 08:30 PM   #4
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Gloria! I was thinking of adding something similar but not as nice as what you added when I read Leslie's comments. The Walt Whitman quote is perfect.
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Old 04-17-2009, 09:54 PM   #5
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Nice quote, Gloria!

The Causeway bridge has been there over 50 years, so the spiders have had time travel a bit at a time. And who knows, some may have been clinging to the bridge materials when they were set up. But since I first noticed them (stopped for a wreck), they've been a curiousity to me.

I knew about the ballooning (Charlotte's Web!), but it would be so easy to drift into the lake and become fish food. Based on the bugs on my windshield, I'd say the spiders eat well.
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Old 04-18-2009, 12:15 AM   #6
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Oh, I hate spiders. I don't kill them unless they're on me, and they're big. I don't go into my little prairie after mid july because of those dang garden spiders. They travel by ballooning, as a previous poster mentioned.

In the summer, in Chicago, some office buildings get so encrusted by spiders that companies have to come in and exterminate them. These are not little spiders, BTW. When they are sprayed, they come down like rain. GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAK!
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Old 04-18-2009, 07:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prairiefreak View Post
In the summer, in Chicago, some office buildings get so encrusted by spiders that companies have to come in and exterminate them. These are not little spiders, BTW. When they are sprayed, they come down like rain. GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAK!
Could you take a couple pics of them and post them here? I'd be curious to see what species they might be. Our old home develops a large population of house/cobweb spiders (Achaearanea spp.; family Theridiidae) each summer. We usually try to tolerate them unless they create a huge mess readily seen by visitors...:eek:
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Old 04-18-2009, 05:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prairiefreak View Post
Oh, I hate spiders. I don't kill them unless they're on me, and they're big. I don't go into my little prairie after mid july because of those dang garden spiders
I hate spiders too. Don't want them crawling up in my curls. If they get on me, they're goners. Ditto if they act like they're thinking of dropping on me.

Memo to spiders - if you stay in your corner and pretend you don't see me, I'll pretend I dont see you.
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Old 04-18-2009, 07:48 PM   #9
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Memo to spiders - if you stay in your corner and pretend you don't see me, I'll pretend I dont see you.

I'm with you Biigblue! In fact, I give my big yellow and black garden spiders the courtesy of marking them off with landscaping flags, so that once discovered, I can easily avoid looking at them, and we can avoid looking at each other.
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Old 04-18-2009, 08:11 PM   #10
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:eek: :eek:

Causeway spiders-dscf4018.jpg

:eek: :eek:
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