Last year and the year before that at this exact time I couldn’t walk around our house’s perimeter without marveling at the fresh and many weavings of the orb spiders around here. Their large and elaborate webs weren’t just being spun under the roof eaves or off the front porch (like the one pictured at right; click to doublicate) or between the railings or all around the backyard… they were up high spanning trees and such. It was like an arachnid epidemic and being one of those freaks who’s ever-respectful and appreciative of spiders I couldn’t have been more amazed or happier… except for those occasions when I’d unsuspectingly move face first through a web, resulting in a spontaneously spastic display of interpretive dance and expletive-laced vocalization that I can only characterize as patently and laughably ridiculous whether viewed in or out of context.
This year’s spidey count? Nada. No, I’m not talking about a marked reduction in their population. I’m talking zero. Not. A. One. It’s as if after that cold spell of last winter coupled with the overall lack of rain they all just said “That’s it, to hell with this place! We’re weaving!”
Yeah, I hear those multitudes of you out there with wittle wuv for the eight-legged wascals. To you no spiders is a good thing. But to me, I wonder if the drastically gone-missing arachnids might not be a sure sign that global warming is accelerating, and so I sent me an e-query a local expert — Brian Brown, PhD, curator of the Entomology Section of the L.A. County Museum of Natural History — asking him what might be the cause: The weather? The Griffith Park fire? The earthquakes? The Dodgers season-ending dive? Britney Spears? Are they all being held captive at the museum’s Spider Pavilion (now through November 4)? Am I singularly crazy or are there others like me?
His diplomatic response didn’t address any lack of sanity but did confirm that there are others out their like me who have noticed reduced numbers this year. “I suppose the exceptionally dry year must be the reason, causing more mortality of eggs and spiderlings,” he concluded.
That may be fine by you and the flies but it saddens the heck out of me.