So, working in a nursery as I do…for the moment… I have occasion to see all kinds of cool critters! This is a perk! I have yet to really be SUPER freaked out by anything there…except grasshoppers and some of the people. They are pretty freaky. The grasshoppers. And with the jump/flying?? Is that really necessary? Rude.
It’s literally a Cinderella job. One day I am just SURE that I will go out onto the patio to begin my grunt work; I’ll sing really badly and the birds, squirrels, bees, dragonflies, praying mantes, butterflies, moths and lacewing flies will absolutely help me attach my radio to my belt, and wind up my hair; straighten my clothes and rinse the soil that sticks to my legs. A girl can dream, right?
The other side of this pretty picture is littered with the European honeybees, the big bumbly bees, the zillions of different wasps and…the SPIDERS. People are always reaching their hands in grasses and flowers and picking up whole flats with their BARE HANDS and I’m just like… are you sure you wanna do that??? Take a look…
Okay now look again at what I caught and released
Have we learned something??? Granted, there are signs to look for that MAY indicate one of these beauties has made a home underneath a flat. My co-worker, Emmie, still ended up with one on her shirt this year. Needless to say, Emmie is of the find-and-destroy variety and I have zero problems with that. To each his/her own. I’m more of a catch-and-release. Unless it’s a brown recluse and/or it’s in my house. If it’s in my house or even in a spot where it can come into potential contact with childrens and it’s a potentially dangerous spider?? Is dead. But at work or when I am able, I will take the flat it made a home out of to the north forty and release it. As long as she’s not overly aggravated or moving around like a nut, which she usually is not, this isn’t a problem. You simply have to keep your eye on them when you coax them out, maintain good distance, and pay attention to which way the wind is blowing.
Their web is irregular and the strands are surprisingly strong and somewhat sticky. Generally they can cover an area much larger than just the flat. The one we found today went from the bottom of the bench leg (3’+), to where she was hiding under the flat, to about 3 ft above the flat. It doesn’t look as strong as it is. I noted this today when I caught and released two lovely ladies. I took them out to Susan Savage’s (former mayor) Up With Trees plot and let ‘em fly. I didn’t get to take a picture of the second’s release, because honestly? As I was coaxing her out with a stick, she came out of that sucker WAY too fast and all I could think was “GET AWAY FROM ME, YOU BITCH!!!”. So I raised the flat up to a tree limb and sure enough, there went that invisible strand of silk and she dropped rather than be safe perched up high. And I wanted to get a picture, but was extremely uncomfortable remaining in the area. SO! Into my golf cart I hopped and back to the nursery I went, wishing her the best.
I have also caught and released them from larger pots. If I see spider webs, I’m going to inspect further before I touch anything. They can tuck into small spaces pretty well. When I caught this one in the larger pot last year, she was under the lip of it. Yes, exactly where you put your hands to pick them up. I saw what I thought was something caught in the web and looked closer. It was her legs. I HAD my trusty nitrile-covered gloves on so when I’d tried to brush it away and make sure there was no spider/egg sac, OFF SHE WENT and I jumped about two feet. I LIKE spiders. But I’m not stupid about ones that can damage me. I did eventually coax her into a dustpan and she settled down and I took her out to the Susan Savage plot. To date, no one has traced a catch-and-release back to the nursery. Haha…I kinda made myself laugh just then. So let it be known!!! Just because we maintain the plants and they are moved a lot? It does NOT mean that critters that bite or sting won’t be in them. TONS of pollinators and their predators live in our nursery alone. We had a lovely Argiope (black and yellow garden spider, garden spider, St. Anthony’s Cross spider, corn spider, writing spider) who moved in strung up between two Altheas. Ooooh hers was sooo pretty. She’s moved on, probably to lay eggs by now. But she was left undisturbed by us for as long as she wanted to stay.
And a note about the stinging things? I’ma knock on wood now. But I have yet to be stung. Co-workers have. And I sure have had those big bumbly ones be a bit more intrusive toward my personal space than I was okay with. Otherwise, I just go about my job and that’s that. Today we got to watch a Cicada Killer. Big, beautiful wasp. They aren’t usually aggressive, but they look positively frightening. You should check them out sometime if you’re feeling froggy.
Next time you need to acquire some plant material, may I suggest you take along some gloves?