blogging, learning, nature, Writing

Nature and Girl Power

Just a few minutes ago, I retreated to the patio, with my daughter, to warm up.  Now, with 60+ pounds of insulation absent from my frame, I get cold much more easily. Unfortunately, I’m outnumbered by family members who run hot. Thank goodness, cardigans are plentiful in my meager wardrobe!

A few minutes into our warming session my daughter let out a shriek and jumped up from her chair.  I wasn’t too alarmed as this is often her reaction at the sight of anything flying, buzzing, or crawling.  Yes, this is the same daughter who dissected an entire human body during her first year of med school, and could still sleep at night, with the lights off.  This is same young woman who can drain a cup of pus from a wound, put in a drain, stitch it up, wash her hands, and then eat a six inch tuna sandwich from Subway for lunch. Go figure!

“OHMYGOD,MOM! It has a SPIDER!  A HUGE SPIDER!!” she screamed.

I edged slowly closer to investigate and sure enough there was a wasp-like creature, crawling along at good clip, with an enormous wood spider, at least four times its size.  Unfortunately, I got too close in my wonderment and scared the poor wasp away.

With the wasp’s grasp loosed, my daughter was the first to notice the wiggling of spider legs.

“Ooooooh, it’s still alive!” she squealed.

I’m not really afraid of creepy crawlies and I teasingly raised my bare hand and asked her if she wanted me to finish him off.

“NoMomNo!! Pleeeeease! Don’t touch it!  Let nature take it’s course.”

So, as cruel as it may seem, we waited and watched, from afar.  In a minute or two, the legs stopped twitching, and soon, our wasp friend was back on the scene.  He scurried and danced around the perimeter of his prey, and then latched on.  He’d drag the giant arachnid a foot or so, stop, scurry-dance to check for other predators, and then go back to the task of dragging his disgusting dinner to our stone retaining wall, where they both soon disappeared.

We retreated back inside the house, and quickly set to researching.  Who was this friend of arachnophobes, who worked so tirelessly to rid the world of terrible spiders?  A quick Google search revealed my daughter’s new best friend to be the humble Spider Wasp.

Thank you my beautiful nectar sipping wasp friend! (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Thank you my beautiful nectar sipping wasp friend! (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

I soon found out there were several things that I was distinctly wrong about in assessing this interesting pompilid.  First, our wasp was most definitely a female, and secondly, this horrifically huge spider wasn’t going to totally be her meal.  This delightful, and hopefully accurate, description from Wikipedia explains it all:

“A female wasp will search the ground and tree trunks for a spider, and upon finding one, will sting it, paralyzing the spider. Once the spider is paralyzed, the female wasp will make a burrow or take the spider to a previously made burrow. She will lay one single egg on the abdomen of the spider using her ovipositor, and then enclose the spider in the burrow. The egg will hatch and the larva will feed on the spider, breaking through the integument with its mandibles.”

I feel pretty fortunate that we got to witness this awesome example of nature’s “girl power.”  While my daughter was fairly impressed, our research still has her worried.  Her first, and smaller, concern is the wasp burrow that we obviously have within our patio’s retaining wall.  Her second, and much bigger trouble, is the knowledge that Spider Wasps are strong enough to pick up and fly with their spidery prey clutched in their mandibles.  “OHMYGOD!  What if they drop it on our heads!?” was her last sentence before she bravely scurried from the family room to read about cancer, aneurysms, heart disease, kidney failure and other truly frightening subjects as she studies for her Step II Medical Board Exam. I guess as females we all specialize in our own kind of girl power!

Are you terrified of creepy crawlies like spiders?  Ladies (and any gentlemen who wish to share), what’s your special kind of “girl power?”


16 thoughts on “Nature and Girl Power”

    1. I so agree. I’ve always had a hard time staying inside, especially in warm weather. Back when I taught school, my students knew I’d do their afternoon classes outdoors as soon as the weather turned nice. 🙂 Today sure is a beautiful one here in WV! 🙂

      1. Little did those kids know that I had spring-fever just as bad as they did! I couldn’t stand being inside when it was so warm and nice. 🙂 Glad you’ve had nice weather, too!

  1. Yikes!!! Spiders is not my thing at all. I jump and squeal loud enough for the neighbourhood to hear! David always thinks it is bigger based on my reactions.
    PS – Congrats on not having enough insulation to keep warm 😉

    1. Lol! 🙂 Thanks! I guess even the toughest, most well- traveled women get a little freaked out over arachnids! My husband does the spider catching, and he always says the same about thinking it was going to be much bigger based on our daughter’s shrieking. You need a nice nest of Spider Wasps to move near you! 🙂

  2. Great question. To be honest, I’m not too thrilled about any creepy, crawly things. But we have tarantulas in our back yard. I’m REALLY not pleased with them.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    1. My daughter would not do well in Ecuador! I’m not all that bothered by bugs. I’m not thrilled when they crawl on me, but I usually don’t react, unless it’s something horrible. I definitely don’t do snakes. They give me cold chills just from thinking about them! Hugs to you! 🙂

  3. I witnessed two mud wasps (which I despise since being stung by one) lift and sting a grasshopper. The grasshopper was doomed as the spider in your story was. I decided to intervene and play the insect king and end it all for the sake of the grasshopper. As a side note, when visiting my buddy in LA, we were taking a break in between ping pong games and noticed this giant slug in one of the planters. Neither my buddy, nor me, wanted to touch this squishy behemoth. Then, I stepped up and grabbed a paper towel to grab this monster with. I then threw this squishy beast into the garbage. A few weeks later, while back in Boston, my buddy emailed me and told me that his room mate wanted to know where his plastic slug had gone to. 🙂

    1. Oh, my goodness! That’s so funny about the slug–ewww! I once got slug juice on my hand when removing the solar cover from the pool at night. I fully, full-on touched it! I screamed like a banshee. I also found that slug slime doesn’t rinse off with the garden hose–you need soap!

    1. Snakes are another story with me, too! I saw one in the corner of my driveway last summer and I still won’t walk in that section of the yard!

      You’re very lucky about having a short insect season. Wish we did, but that would mean less warm weather! 🙂 Good to hear from you!

  4. I’m not too keen on spiders or wasps. I try not to freak out too much on the outside, but my inside still is! I want to retire in Arizona, but I’m a little worried how I will handle black widows, tarantulas and scorpions! That is odd how often in nature, the female is the aggressor. Very interesting.

    1. My husband spent his teen and college years in AZ and has very fond memories of it. He LOVES creepy crawlies and has many stories about all of the lizards, snakes, scorpions and tarantulas that studied while there. ICK!! ICK!! ICK!! I’m not fond of anything that could kill you or make you sick!

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