Tears and Laughter: Bunches of banana spiders hanging out in Alabama this year
November 1, 2017 | View PDF
Just to be clear, I am writing about the banana spiders found in the southeastern region of the United States. They live as far north as North Carolina and as far west as Texas.
I am not referring to the banana spider of Central and South America that is venomous and will chase people.
There are those who believe the banana spider arrived to our area aboard banana boats as they docked at the port of Mobile years ago. But experts claim Mobile had banana spiders long before the banana boats sailed.
The banana spiders we have in Alabama are also called Nephila, or golden silk orb weavers…among other things.
When the sun is shining right, you can see the yellow hue of their webs. And they don’t build shabby webs. I saw a small limb dangling from one after the last rain. This year they seem to be everywhere.
I have been keenly aware of one in particular because I had been playing limbo with one of them since early July who had built a face-level web on the porch off the side entrance of the garage.
I don’t know why I didn’t just get rid of it. But I didn’t, and wouldn’t you know it, an even bigger one built another web higher above the first in the far right corner. They became known as Spider #1 and Spider #2. I would go out just to speak with them and check out their webs.
Spider #2 must have been from a long line of fine web weavers. She didn’t just build a sturdy flat web. She built lean-tos off each side. This was maybe a way to catch more food, because you could tell by looking at her that she liked to eat.
I suppose the extra webbing could have also served to protect her center web from the wind, yet what it did not shield her from was certain other predators. I got out of my car one day and Spider #3 had abruptly arrived. I don’t know the full story, but bad things happened. All that was left of Spider #2 were eight legs still floating in her well-built web.
After that I felt hard toward Spider #3. I wouldn’t even speak. I would walk underneath her stolen web like she wasn’t even up there. I even warned Spider #1 – who I had become friendly with at that point – to be very leery of Spider #3 – especially when she started adding on another addition to the web in #1’s direction.
Then it happened. I went out to see Spider #1 and she was gone. Just gone. No sign of struggle. No evidence of foul play. No note.
That is when I really started being more open to getting to know Spider #3. The new routine became for me to walk out to see her, and then I would reach up and tap her web a couple of times. Sometimes she would just keep picking at her weaving, and sometimes she would charge down the web at me and I would run off squealing.
So really, it doesn’t make any sense at all for me to miss her quite as much as I have noticed I do since I went out Friday morning and found she was gone.
I feel like Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web.