The early morning mist forms droplets on flowers, leaves and twigs. The moisture that accumulates on our sloped roof forms droplets that glide down off the edge, splashing on the leaves of plants that border our house’s foundation. The stillness of the air and the intermittent drip… drip, drip… drip is soothing, mesmerizing. I linger for a while outside to enjoy this tranquil setting. Gazing at the suburban landscape on manicured lawns, I notice dozens upon dozens of spider webs on the grass. The entire neighborhood is speckled with these webs as far as the eye can see. There are hundreds, if not thousands of webs.
The webs are also adorned with water droplets beaded on the silk strands that form the intricate lattice. Thick silken threads attached to the blades of grass support the web. Thin silver-white threads form an entangled mesh that is flat and wide on top with a funnel that twists down into the grasses. The webs look like tornados, frozen in time.
These webs are evidence that grass spiders are abundant here. The spider hides deep within the funnel poised to pounce on any insect that has the misfortune to land and become entangled in the massive deadly netting. Once subdued, the insect is either eaten or dragged down into the funnel and sucked of fluids.
Judging from the sheer numbers of webs in the neighborhood, these arachnids must eradicate a good amount of insects each day. By removing mosquitoes from the environment, they remove pathogens such as West Nile virus and other insect borne diseases. Though these spiders are not venomous, research is discovering that the venom of poisonous spiders may help to treat arthritis and certain heart ailments.
The clattering of Florida san dhill cranes breaks the silence of this misty morning and I return to the front door and watch the cranes walk down the street. They walk onto the neighbor’s lawn where they shove their long bills into the grass, eating worms, bugs and perhaps even spiders. Such is the web of life.