Ruby’s Offspring

One morning i was walking from the house to the extension shed when i noticed something round sitting in the middle of the yucca plant in front of the shed porch. It was a white ball with brown squiggly lines on it, suspended from the inner spikes of the yucca by some sort of woven silk netting. Obviously there were baby spiders in there but what kind?! I hopped on my cell phone and began googling “egg sacs”. As it turned out, what i was staring at was most likely a golden orb weaver egg sac. How wonderful!!!! There would be more orb weavers for the coming year!! But which one had done it? Whose babies were these? They couldn’t belong to Odessa or Piper, as they were killed by a praying mantis long before the egg sac emerged. That left Charlotte and Ruby. Ruby lived on the shed, made her web between the shed wall and the porch railing, and frequently hung out on the shed door right behind the yucca plant in question. Charlotte mostly stayed over by my house, eventually moving to the electric pole behind it in order to escape Rasputin, the giant female praying mantis that spent all summer trying to eat her. I decided it was more likely the egg sac belonged to Ruby since it was in her territory. She was also the spider that had stayed above ground the longest when freezing temperatures arrived. It was below freezing and the way she was plastered to the door, unmoving, i thought she had died. When the sun hit her Ruby moved a couple legs and i knew she was still with us. Had Ruby stayed above ground longer than the others to lay her eggs? I wasn’t sure.

All i knew was that i looked forward to the return of my summer friends and due to the staggering amount of praying mantises on the property, i figured a few out of a hundred spiders might make it to adulthood. I swore to Ruby’s memory that i’d try to keep her offspring alive. She had really chosen an ingenious place to leave her egg sac. It was suspended from the yucca spikes that had pointy edges and there was a fairly sticky substance on the flat part of each spike. Any predator would either be trapped or impaled trying to reach these babies.

So i checked on the egg sac daily and watched it shrivel and become dented-in over time. i hoped the little Ruby juniors were okay in there.

As time went on i noticed the netting that suspended the egg sac was starting to fray and strands were sticking together until the sac was hanging by threads. Spring arrived and with it the wind storms that brought 60 mph gusts, hail, and tornado warnings. After one such storm i went out to check on the spiderlings in their hibernation and they were gone. The yucca still stood but the egg sac did not. I decided one of two things had happened. Either they had hatched when i wasn’t looking or the wind had blown them from the yucca. I got down on my hands and knees and combed the grass. I searched and searched until i found them. A little worse for wear, the egg sac was still intact but the threads that held it to the yucca were gone. What to do? I thought about taking them into the house, but felt it was important they be outside when the hatching happened. How would i ever herd or wrangle baby spiders? Then i remembered my house had been sprayed with pest control chemicals that could possibly harm them. So i wedged them back in the center of the yucca plant and that’s where they’ve been ever since. The wait for baby spiders is back on.

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