Friday, 11 May 2018

Putting theory into practice

Spoiler alert: there's a photo at the end of the post which some of you mightn't want to see. However, I have put in more paragraphs than necessary, so as to, hopefully, prevent it being the first thing you view.

With a free morning, I wondered what to do with my spare time, although to be fair, it's rarely free or actually spare. There is always that juggling act with what could be done, should be done, needs done or would be the preferred thing to do. Today wasn't any different.

I opted to start of with a bit of housework, firstly emptying the clean clothes from the airing cupboard, and then progressing to vacuuming the floors. Whilst carrying the vacuum cleaner from its home in the self-same cupboard, I noticed a small shadow behind the ironing board, tucked up against the skirting board and the edge of the carpet. Ninety nine times out of a hundred this will be a wood louse but, in this instance, it wasn't. The creature's many legs were too few, too long and too... spidery. Oh bother, what to do?

The arachnophobes amongst you will be screaming "But you're holding the vacuum cleaner!" And I would be fibbing if I said that hadn't occurred to me. However, in the spirit of species identification and record gathering, I opted for a different approach.

Switching on the vacuum light for a clearer view, I could see that it didn't appear to be anything unusual (is that good or bad?) and it wasn't particularly spooked by my presence (is THAT good or bad?!). Cue a feverish few minutes, whilst I searched the kitchen for an appropriate glass and a piece of stiff card. Back at the sharp end, as it were, I was able to place the glass over the spider and slide the card under the glass, all without squishing the animal or amputating any of its legs (probably an occupational hazard for an arachnid in the home of a nervous human).

Now for the tricky bit... the lifting of the whole glass/card/slice apparatus, without leaving any gaps between the two which would allow for er... egress. A further trip to the kitchen saw me brandishing a fish slice and executing a perfect 'slide and lift' manoeuvre, So far so good.

I gingerly placed the whole malarkey on the kitchen table (note to Our Lass... stop reading here...), so that I could photograph the spider, with the hope that this would help with identification.

To be honest, it did look like a smaller version of the house spiders we would see when we lived south, so I fired off a message to the local guru to ask if it was 'just' a small Teg(enaria)? This was duly confirmed, with the added info that it was an adult male and it had nice palps.

Really?!

With that sorted, I could finally think about releasing the creature, so opened the several doors between the garden and the spider, and set forth with the whole apparatus. Things were going according to plan right up to the moment of release, when a stiff breeze caught the not-stiff-enough card, resulting in a yelp from me, followed by a swift parting of the ways, as human and spider went in opposite directions.

I sincerely hoped.


13 comments:

Countryside Tales said...

Brave. I performed the same manoeuvre last week with an ENORMOUS spider on my son's bedroom wall. Poor thing was as terrified as I was and tucked up her long long long legs to make herself tiny wee. I am trying to get better with them. Trying....

Imperfect and Tense said...

Ooft! Well done! Why are some of us wired this way, I wonder? Is it a learned behaviour as children, or is it somehow burnt into our psyche from Deep Time. In some respects, I guess I should have been more sympathetic with the spider. Because if he and I had then found a big female Teg, which one one of us would've been the more nervous?!

Countryside Tales said...

True. Don't mess with a lady spider :o)

It can't be entirely learnt behaviour because both my parents were fine with the huge spiders we had at our farm and would pick them up BY HAND!!!!!. Interestingly, my son used to happily pick them up for me until he was four or five, but can't bring himself to get anywhere near them now at 16, hence my mercy dash for him last week....

I suggest training yourself on cellar spiders if you have them up there? We have lots and I can now pick them up without freaking out :o)

Mark said...

My Wife would go absolutely nuts if I did that!!!!Stayed at a wonderful place in Assynt recently and on the bookshelf was a glossy volume of about 600 pages on Spiders-a very scholarly work but Spiders nonetheless. Its all very interseting but I think my focus lies on Lepidoptera and (thanks to you Tensey) Odanata.

Have a great weekend, Mark.

Imperfect and Tense said...

That's interesting, CT. For my part, the loathing seems to stem from a childhood incident with a bare foot putting on a slipper, but that can't be the same for every arachnophobe, surely. I'm guessing that the worry of unpredictable and rapid movement will be a part of it. But, yes, unlearning the behaviour seems to be the key.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Hi Mark, wow, that's a niche topic for holiday accommodation! A bit of me would be nervously wondering why!

Countryside Tales said...

When you've got a moment could you pop over to my blog and have a look at the last two bee photos. I'm stumped. In the garden this week, very interested in rotten wood, quite small and rotund. I'm wondering about Melecta spp but haven't seen them in the flesh before. The central sections of the legs are white, there are orangey/ red hairs on the tip of the tail and some faint golden hairs on the body plus a yellow face. Any help/ thoughts gratefully received. As a sweetener, there's also a photo of a recently-eclosed large red damsel three-quarters out of the exuvia. Don't feel you need to read through all the running-related stuff! CT.

Countryside Tales said...

Thank you- I think you’re right. Microdon are seemingly scarce/ rare so I’m chuffed to have them here, but also intrigued. A Heathland specialist but we have no Heath near here. Maybe the ant host explains it.

Imperfect and Tense said...

No problem, CT, I had more success with your ID conundrum than my own :o)

Spadger said...

That was soo funny to read! It did arf make me titter!!

At least the spider probably survived its ordeal unlike the teneral damsel I was told about a few weeks back. A couple of colleagues relayed how on leaving the canteen one lunch time they excitedly spied their first large red of the year making what was probably its maiden flight. They watched as it weakly fluttered to land on an outside table where someone was eating their dinner. It was then met swiftly with a heavy hand coming down to end its all to short life! Comments were made.

Imperfect and Tense said...

JD, wtaf?! That is almost a subscription cancelling moment, right there!

To be fair, fluttery stuff does scare the heck out of some folk (I'm thinking moths, birds etc), but I can't recall the title of the horror film where humanity was threatened by a ravening horde of one damselfly.

One of Dr Avery's recent blogposts asked the not unreasonable question "What would the founders of the charity make of its stance on certain current issues?"

Spadger said...

at current rate of loss very few would have a clue! Ha that rhymes :o) but would at least know about fluffy squeaky toys, seed, nuts and timber framed homes

Imperfect and Tense said...

Presumably, there will be figures available showing whether the sale of fluffy squeaky toys is a viable proposition in securing funds for the charity? As long as these funds are used for the benefit of all species, not just the species featured in the toy range, then I can live with that.

However, if the funds are being used to create a nature reserve populated solely by fluffy toys, then I think we have a bigger problem.