Sunday, June 29, 2014

Charlotte's Web

This small argiope spider spun her web in a red rose bush in my backyard.  Google says this is the largest spider most folks in the U.S. will ever see, obviously not written by someone living in tarantula territory. This was a small spider, only about 1.5 inches long including its legs. I learned it is also called "the writing spider" and that its baby spiders disperse on the wind with fine web "parachutes". I suddenly realized this is the spider of Charlotte's Web. Only the female argiopes have this particular pattern and color, and only the females spin such distinctive webs, so I know this is a girl spider, like Charlotte. Maybe she will write me a message one day!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

ode to a toad

"That afternoon the dream of the toads rang through the elms by Little River and affected the thoughts of men, though they were not conscious that they heard it."  -  Henry David Thoreau

We had a new visitor on the patio this morning. At first I thought it was a regular Texas Toad, but it seemed it little too yellow in color, so I went a googling.  I found out Texas Toads don't have a stripe down their back, and this one definitely does. It is a Gulf Coast Toad, Bufo valliceps valliceps. Even though we are pretty far inland, it's been so miserably hot & humid lately Bell County might could pass for Houston or Beaumont. I hope the toad stays in our back yard. It's currently taking refuge under the loose end of a bag of potting soil, but I put a broken terra cotta pot upside down nearby in case the toad would like a mini-cave.

See the stripe down the middle of the back and two lesser stripes on the sides above the legs? The other distinguishing trait it the deep "valley" between the toad's eyes.

I'll be listening this evening for toad songs.