Monday, October 25, 2010

Yellow Witches and Spiders

Over the weekend, we spotted a Marbled Orbweaver spider, Araneus marmoreus. It was a rich orangish-yellow color with long red and white legs. Its common name comes from the marbled pattern on its abdomen. Some believe this pattern looks like a face.

I personally think it looks like a tap dancing caterpillar. But I might have a bit of an active imagination. If you look closely, you can see its top hat and three sets of legs.

Marbled Orbweavers may look big and scary, but they are actually very docile and gentle. I picked this one up a few times to position her for photos.

We also found yellow spider-like objects hanging off the limbs of a nearby tree. These are the flowers of Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana. Yes, believe it or not, Witch Hazel blooms this time of year.

Above is a closeup of the flowers. The long petals give the flower an interesting look. The common name "witch hazel" has a strange origin. The "hazel" part is from the leaves which look similar to those of Hazelnut, Corylus americana. The "witch" part comes from the tree's use in divining rods to find ground water. Some believed divining rods were part of witch craft. Believers took a forked twig from the Witch Hazel and walked slowly around the area where they believed the ground water might be. The twig would dip when it was near the source of water. Some totally believe this to be true and others believe it is a complete hoax. Some even practice it to this very day!


OpposableChums said...

Tap dancing caterpillar, definitely.

Scott Namestnik said...

I would lean towards Mr. Peanut with a couple of extra legs.

Janet Creamer said...

Glad you agree with me, Jason!

Scott, Mr. Peanut?! I had one of those dolls as a kid! How funny!