We are a spidery kind of family. For instance, one summer, about 20 years ago — a summer that we still refer to fondly as “The Spider Summer” — we had a simply marvelous population of crab spiders living on our house. Hundreds and hundreds of spiky looking spiders, ranging in size from split pea to plum, toiled all season spinning webs over a fairly large percentage of our eaves. And we: Ma, Pa, and two kids, spent many happy hours with our heads craned upward, avidly watching spiders with naked eyes (aside from the glasses-wearers) and through binoculars. I am glad that my husband and both kids love spiders; I’m not sure I’d be able to cope with an arachnophobe!
Unfortunately, we have not experienced another summer as richly endowed with spiders since then, but almost every season we do manage to keep a couple of house spiders alive, usually at least one in the downstairs bathroom, and often another in the kitchen. And yes, we do feed our spiders, because otherwise they would starve to death: Our house does not support a large enough arthropod population to keep even one good-sized spider alive all summer.
This year’s kitchen spider is a particularly engaging specimen. She is a wolf spider, and lives in a tunnel web on the windowsill in front of the sink. Like all wolf spiders, she is quick and lively, and unlike most spiders, her species has excellent eyesight: She is farsighted enough that she can see us when we are standing at the sink in front of her windowsill! This morning, when I walked up to the sink to do some dishes, she ran out of her tunnel and stared at me, as if to say “Aren’t you going to throw me a moth?” Her stratagem worked. When I went upstairs to brush my teeth, I found a weevil bumbling around on the bathroom window screen, so I caught it, brought it downstairs and threw it to her.
A couple of days ago we managed to catch her in action on video. And yes, we haven’t dusted the windowsill all summer, because we didn’t want to disturb her.