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Arachnid Gladiators

So the other day I went into our hall bathroom and there was a spider in the sink. This isn’t uncommon in a house shaded by redwoods, and even less uncommon in November. It’s the month at all the local spiders seem to come to visit.
In years past, I would have washed it down the sink. But I have improved, I have become stronger, bigger (OK, only around the waist), and faster at catching live spiders in insect-viewing boxes! My daughter and I finished with Oceans and are now studying Insects (her choice) in our homeschool. I know that spiders aren’t insects (so does she!), but I thought it would be fun to put the spider in the magnifying insect viewer she got at her school library.
It was fun, but later that day when I found ANOTHER spider of the same sort in the same sink, it got even more interesting. We were on our way out of the house to art class, so we just caught the second spider in with the first. My daughter said that it was nice because the first spider was a boy (it was larger) and the second spider was a girl, and they could be mommy and daddy.
When I got home from dropping her at class, I wasn’t sure it was loving I was seeing. My suspicions were confirmed by the fact that the spider on the bottom of the spider pile had apparently lost a leg in the transaction. Oops.
It was Spider Gladiators, round 1! Some kids would have been upset, but my daughter, who plans to be a doctor, was fascinated. The next day we found another spider, this one of a different species. (Anyone know of a good California spiders identification website? I couldn’t figure out what they were.) The first ones were brown striped. The new one was a wet-looking, richer brown, about the same size as the smaller of the first two.
Our champion defended his title in Spider Gladiators, round 2! Now we had two dead spiders in the bottom of the viewer, and one rather satisfied victor. Today we found a dead fly (not dead for too long), and figured we’d see whether the spider would go for that. So we stuck it in, which was harder than it might seem. Our old guy is getting wily. He moves fast and when I tried to tap him into the bottom of the thing so I could open it up, he knew the drill and held on. Finally I slipped the fly in and closed it back up.
The report is, so far, that the spider is not interested. My daughter thought that perhaps it wouldn’t make any difference, because, she posited, bugs often get caught in spider webs and die long before the spider notices them. We’ll see.
She is hoping that the spider will like the dead fly, she tells me, because if it does and we can keep feeding it, we can keep it alive till her birthday. She is convinced that all her friends are going to want to see the carcasses of our pet spider’s victims!
Then she consider another possibility. We had read that her betta fish, Oktten, might enjoy catching live insects off the top of his tank.
We both know that spiders aren’t insects, but it might be fun to see who would be the victor in that fight…

Posted in Homeschooling, Parenting.

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