Autumn is here. I can tell from the spider webs. Going out onto our back deck each morning is now an adventure because their silky nets have been spun overnight and hang from our sun umbrellas. Spider silk is mainly composed of a protein similar to that in insect silk, the kind that the Japanese have for years used to make silk cloth. It’s similar in tensile strength to nylon but is much more elastic, so it can stretch much further before breaking or losing shape. Which is why it stretches when it catches you. Definitely a biological wonder.
I don’t mind running into the webs, but I do worry about is having the spider actually on me. I respect spiders, largely because they help reduce the insect population, but North Carolina is also home to both the brown recluse and the black widow, both of which deserve a wide berth.
Our pool seems to be a spider attractant. I have never seen so many different species as I’ve seen while swimming this year, from tiny almost transparent ones to huge black and yellow garden spiders 2-3 inches across. No matter the size, shape or color, they all have the same eight legs. No, spiders are not insects. Insects have six legs and are on the spider menu.
The webs are a marvel of engineering and design and I think everyone should take the time to admire the work and try to avoid running into them, if possible. In the last few days I’ve seen the egg balls in the center of the webs, the mother’s promise of a new generation. Autumn is definitely here.