Rugged individualist

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In every family it seems that there’s one child who’s never where they’re supposed to be, resents the application of rules or boundaries, and seems to lack any sense of danger. But that’s enough about my daughter.

Sadly, in this family the adventurous soul on the right has no parent to whom it can say “I’m four years old – I can take care of myself!”, because these tiny spiderlings are orphans. Their mother, whom I remember blipping last September, will have laid her eggs round about then, and spun a silken cocoon to enclose them; and will then have sat over it, guarding her offspring against threats, and not moving, or even feeding herself, until she died later in the autumn.

The cocoon stayed in place – unnoticed by predators or me – until today, when the spiderlings hatched. They immediately set to work to spin this untidy web, and then formed the spider equivalent of a puppy lump, in which they will huddle (or most of them, anyway) for the next few days. As they’ve chosen to hang out on top of the garden wall, nicely visible against the pale cerastium, I fear that a lot of them will be predated at this stage; but the survivors will disperse and go about their spidery business individually until they mature next summer – at which point they will look to mate, and the cycle will begin again.

I find it fascinating, and really rather poignant.