Araneus cavaticus

Araneus cavaticus

As best as I can tell, we have a number of barn spiders (Araneus cavaticus) around the property here in St. Paul.  We initially noticed them in the chicken yard.  We had a snow rake’s handle hanging over the side entrance of the covered run, and one of the buggers made a web at least five feet high with support webbing running more than eight feet.  The next barn spider showed up to the right of the main gate into the chicken yard; the web was smaller, but you could also easily find the spider, during the day, tucked behind the yellow “Chicken Crossing” sign.  Since then, another one showed up at the front of the house, in front of the attached garage.   Melissa wanted to name this one Charlotte, since the barn spider is the type of spider that Charlotte, of Charlotte’s Web was modeled after.

Deliquescence

If you are not fond of creepy-crawly things, you might not be interested in this short video. Basically, it’s a mole. Though, it is more like what remains of a mole. I came across the remains while out in the back part of our yard. It basically looks like the mole melted, but it actually the careful work of bacteria and insects.

I would guess the little thing had been deceased for several days.  I had been through the area where I found it just days before – picking up pears.  Perhaps one of the dogs did the little bugger in; maybe it stumbled upon the rotten pears in the yard, only to find out too late that they were covered with wasps.  Maybe it was dropped by a hawk.

I have been fascinated by the amazing abilities of insects to scatter flesh and make deceased things basically disappear.  If I had not stumbled upon the remains of the mole, it is likely it would have vanished in another day or two – inconspicuous bits of hair or maybe a toenail would be the only traces.  After a heavy rain, there would be zero evidence.