Seaside and Wayside, Book One  by Julia McNair Wright

Very Queer Spiders

I HAVE told you of the spider that dives. I also told you of the spider that makes a raft. The one that makes the round web is the garden spider.

There is a spider that runs on water. How can she do that? Have you seen boys dash about on ice with skates on their feet? Did you ever see a man walk on snow-shoes? This spider wears shoes.

They are shoes made for walking on the water. What are they like? They are like bags of air. It is as if she had a wee toy-balloon on each of her eight feet. She cannot sink.

There is one spider called a trap-door spider. She lives in the ground. She digs a tube down, and makes her nest deep in the earth.


Traps and Snares

Then she makes a door. It is a nice door at the top of the hole. It has a hinge. It will open and shut.

It is like the lid of a box. How does she make this? She spins a thick, round web. She fills it with earth.

Then she folds the web over, to hold in the dirt. She makes a hinge of web. This trap-door will open and shut. It is firm and strong.

But the odd thing is, that the spider plants moss or small ferns on this door! She digs the moss up, sets it on her door, and it grows well. These trap-door spiders eat ants and worms. When they come out of their holes, they leave the door wide open so that they can go back.

Once a man put a lady-bird at a spider's trap-door. She took it in to eat. She found it had too hard a shell for her to bite. So she took it back and laid it out by her door.

Then the man put a soft grub by the door, and the spider took that to eat. She did not bring that back. She ate it. Spiders now and then eat other spiders, but not often.

One kind of spider makes a tent of leaves. She ties the leaves down with silk. She lives in the tent and keeps her eggs there.

One garden spider makes a nest in the shape of a pear. One ties a little ball to stems of grass. Two or three stems are tied together to hold the ball firmly.

The young spiders have not their thick coats at first. Small spiders will stay by their mother and sit on her back. They act like the small chicks with the hen. Most spiders live only one year. Some live two. Others live over four.

There are some mason spiders. When a man is a mason, what does he do? In what does he work? There are mason wasps, and mason bees, and mason worms. Mason spiders make nests of clay.

They take the clay in small bits and build a clay mug. It is six inches long. They line it with thick silk. The door is like a box lid. It has a hinge.

Some spiders are so small you can hardly see them. One of the very wee ones is clear, bright red. Some are very big. The big ones are black, with spots and stripes, and have thick coats like fur.

If you could find a tower spider, or a trap-door spider, and sit down to watch it build or catch its food, I think you would be happy for a whole day, or for many days. The tower spider builds over her hole a neat tower two or three inches high; she sits on her tower. She has as many as fifty baby spiders at once. They sit on her back for four or five weeks, until they moult two or three times. They do not fight with each other.

When Mrs. Spider gets a fly or a bug for the little ones to eat, she crushes it, and the baby spiders come and suck the juice, as she holds the food for them.