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Itsy Bitsy

Hudson Cooper
Posted 10/1/21

I do not have any domestic pets. In the past, my family had an Irish Setter, followed by two Airedales and eventually a toy poodle named Brandy.   I did not think of myself as a cat guy. …

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Itsy Bitsy


I do not have any domestic pets. In the past, my family had an Irish Setter, followed by two Airedales and eventually a toy poodle named Brandy.   I did not think of myself as a cat guy. However, years ago a roommate brought home a cat. I forget the cat’s real name but remember that after he was “fixed,” he responded to me when I referred to him as “Numbnuts.” My bedroom got the morning sun every day. He’d scratch on my door until I let him jump on my bed to get some rays. By the time I moved out, I realized I missed him more than my former roommate.

A month ago, I acquired another creature to care for, but I would be hard pressed to call it a pet. A small spider decided that an ideal site for his web would be my driver’s side rear view mirror. The first time I saw the web I was not a great host as I found a stick to dismantle it. As I began to touch the web, the spider emerged, ejected a tiny filament and scurried down to the ground, disappearing under my car.      

The next morning as I approached my car, I saw that the spider, that I began calling “Itsy,” had constructed an even more elaborate web.   I found another stick and this time made sure to tear apart the web and then used a paper towel to eliminate any shreds. I drove to do some food shopping. Glancing at my outside mirror to change lanes, I noticed that part of Itsy’s web, about an inch of it, was waving in the breeze.

I began to wonder about the strength of adhesive on a spider’s web that allows it to stick to a surface while my car was driving at 55 mph. When I arrived back in my driveway, I wiped away the last piece of the web from my mirror. I figured that the spider would get the hint and find another place to trap his meal.

I underestimated Itsy’s resolve to make my car his prime web building site. The next morning, I saw a new web as I approached my car. It was bigger and more complicated than the previous ones. What was he trying to catch, a bird?

I went on the internet to read how spider’s build webs. It told me that spiders have spinnerets on their abdomen that are silk-spinning organs. Some species can eject a starting strand over 4 feet. They are quite adept at web building, even attaching silk drag lines to prevent their threads from collapsing under the weight of trapped prey.

Okay, now I knew I was dealing with a formidable opponent. But it was time to give him a change of address. For weeks, I noticed an annoying cluster of tiny insects flying around my deck. If Itsy was looking for food, I was going to give it to him not on a silver platter but on a silver silken web.

Armed with a plastic zip-lock bag and a wooden ruler held in my gloved hand, I approached my car. I used the ruler to lightly tap the web a few times. Soon, I saw Itsy, thinking it had trapped a meal, crawl out of a small groove at the edge of my mirror. Seeing me, he quickly dropped a silken thread and began lowering himself to escape. Luckily for me, he landed in the plastic bag. Zipping it closed and lacking the nursery rhyme water spout, I approached my deck.

Swatting away the cluster of insects, I opened the bag and sensing his freedom, Itsy crawled out. Hoping he’d take the hint; I went back inside.

The next morning my car’s mirror was without a trace of a web. Checking my deck, I saw that a huge web had trapped a good number of that cluster of insects. Looking closer, I saw Itsy collecting one for his breakfast.

Of course, spider’s do not have fingers but if he did, I believe he would have given me a thumb’s up, celebrating “cluster’s last stand.”


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