It’s cranefly season, and this summer, there is an unusual number of them.
Every night, John opens his bedroom window with the lights on (and the doors closed). He feeds the craneflies he catches to the spider that has set up home on the window frame.
He’s called her Henrietta,
Every morning I plead with John to set Henrietta free. I may have a point, because now is the time that the spiders in our garden mate.
“Look at this,” John says. “These two spiders are trying to mate. They are strumming to each other.”
I step up to the bush he kneels in front of.
“Isn’t that sweet?”
“No.” The insignificantly tiny male carefully strumms the thread the female has spun. She in turn rises up, fangs poised, presenting her genitals at the same time. “It’s a game of life and death.”
The dance continues. He strumms; she responds briefly. He advances; she does not move. He bounces back. He strumms…
“If I was her, I’d parceled him up by now,” I say sourly. But then my heart leaps. He’s advanced again. This time, he’s not backing off. He’s almost there…
It’s the last move the male ever makes. The female pounces faster than the eye can see. Even as we watch with bated breath, she’s already encasing the hapless suitor in a silver cocoon of silk. She darts across to her web with the parcel dangling from her abdomen, then returns to the thread, turns it around and starts to feed. The suddeness with which this all happened shocks me. Nature and her ways.
“It’s time to put Henrietta out,” I say. “Do it today while the sun still shines, so she too can feast on men.”