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Rollin Knifley comes to terms with perservering orb weavers

At first, when a giant spider took over his back porch, he did his best to humanely deport her. But after more than a dozen unsuccessful tries, he settled for being a studious sidewalk superintendent, googling spiders as she worked. As best he can determine, his spiders and the builder of Fred Rowe's web are orb weavers, closely related to the bright red and orange garden spider so familiar in the Gradyville area of Adair County and elsewhere in the region.
Comments re photo 68152 Giant spider web greets Rowe Farm staff

By Rollin Knifley

I am by no means a spider expert. Typically, any spider I encounter outdoors, I give plenty of room. If encountered indoors, that is usually bad news for the spider. Im not sure why, but there isn't anything that will throw a case of the willies on me like a spider. If I walk through a web, or God forbid a spider gets on me, I go straight into the "every man for himself mode". I don't care if you are a child, woman, young or elderly, you are on your own! I'm not proud of it, it's just the way I was made.


Despite respect for spiders, he became curious

Despite my (we will call it respect) for spiders, I found myself curious about them about this time last year. I had walked out on our deck and noticed a pretty good size web about waist high. I immediately found the longest broom in the house and tore it down. The next day I stepped out on the deck and there it was again in the same place. I tore it down again. Next day, same thing. I decided to look for the persistant maker and found her hiding in a plant we had on the porch. I went to the garage and got a shovel. I managed to get her on the end of the shovel and tossed her out in the yard. The next morning I stepped out on the deck and looked in the spot where the web had been and it wasn't there. I was fairly pleased with myself until I turned around and looked up. She had came back to the porch and moved her web up to the corner of two 6x6s. I decided that since she was so determined to live on my back porch I would let her as long as she stayed up high. I started going out on the porch in the late evening and watching her work her craft in web making. I would sneak up close to get a good look at her and spend 30 minutes googling spiders to see if I could identify her.

He learned she was a spider in the Orb Weaver family

Here is what I learned. She was a spider in the Orb Weaver family. Im not gonna use the big fancy words. Google "orb weaver" if you want to see the big words. They are in the same family as the black and yellow garden spiders that we have all seen. The garden spiders usually have the zig-zag pattern in the middle of its web. The garden spider will normally hang out there all the time. Since the web on the Rowes farm is absent of the zig-zag and the spider, I'm guessing that this is a variety of the orb weaver that hides during the day and comes to the web in the late evening. There are about 3100 species of orb weavers worldwide. They get their names from the wheel-like webs. A lot of them consume and rebuild their webs every night. I would be willing to bet, if they go to the web tonight about 7 o'clock they will find her there working away. They can get to be fairly big. About the size of a half dollar. Big abdomen, 2 inch legs. They do have venom, but are not poisonous or dangerous to healthy humans.

Last year 13 of them at his home

Last year I ended up with 13 of them around the house. One built over the light on the front porch. She was a pretty cool natural Halloween decoration. This year there are already three on the back porch. --Rollin Knifley


This story was posted on 2016-08-21 14:22:04
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