Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Lunch will be Served on the Pool Deck

Florida offers a hospitable environment for a variety of life forms often considered undesirable: insects, reptiles, amphibians and relatives from northern states. Because it’s so hot for so much of the year, many insect species reproduce all year long. While this means good business for the pest control industry, it also means there is a continuous smorgasbord for things that live on insects.

So Florida has lots of frogs and toads that eat insects, and consequently, lots of snakes that eat frogs and toads. Because the snakes are so good at their job, there are plenty of insects left over for spiders, and Florida is loaded with them.

Spiders who build webs follow the common rule of Real Estate: location, location, location. Everybody wants a web that’s high enough that it won’t get torn up by passing animals, located right in the flight paths of big, juicy bugs, and has a high resale value, which means a view of the water.

This is why I have lots of spiders in my pool enclosure. In Florida, it’s best to enclose your pool in a screen house, to keep out the leaves, pine needles, frogs, toads, opossums and bugs. Pool enclosures are pretty effective at keeping everything out, but somehow, bugs still get in. They squeeze under the screen frame, they fly in when the door is open, they locate any small tears in the screens, and before you know it, they’re breeding in an enclosed environment that keeps out every natural predator except for two: spiders and me. I spray or swat at them with a broom, but they just laugh and fly away, right into the spider webs.

The corners of my screen enclosure are ideal sites for spiders to build webs to trap stray moths, dragonflies, mosquitoes and even other spiders. Some of them are beautiful, almost jewel-like.

argiope


harlequin_spider2


green_spider1



I leave the spiders alone for the most part, until there are so many of them that the choice web sites are taken. The latecomers have to build their webs lower down, where I walk into them while vacuuming the pool. A few swipes with the broom and they’re gone for a month or so. If only I could get rid of my relatives that easily. I need bigger spiders.

6 comments:

burton said...

Dude - I enjoy a picture of a nice looking spider as much as the next. That is it though. Brooms - hah! No spiders - even in our yard. They know they are not welcome. Snakes too. I don't discriminate either - all species are unwelcome. They understand the fatal consequences of showing up on our grounds. I figure I am not screwing up the balance of life because there are many people like you out there preserving it...not to mention that there are millions of other places these snakes and spiders can be hanging out.

Kim said...

I don't mind the spiders. And I obviously don't mind the snakes. It's the frogs that I just refuse to cohabitate with. The pond behind the house in Sanford used to be infested with them and they would hang out on my sliding glass door when it got dark and eat the bugs that flew by. Turning on the porch light was like turning on the "hot donuts" sign at a Krispy Kreme shop. Bugs would swarm and the frogs would provide loads of entertainment for my dogs who loved to watch them from the other side of the glass and occassionally try to get to them.

The whole thing creaped me out!

Anonymous said...

The itsy bitsy spider crawled down the water spout!

Ellen said...

Tim,
You don't have to worry about this relative visiting.... those pictures and description of your environment will keep me happily in AZ (my neighborhood is completely scorpion, snake, and bug free... a few spiders in the spring). Babysis

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