Spider eggs and Christmas crackers

Posted: Wednesday 23 December 2009
by Richard Jones

It's cold, there's snow on the ground, and all is quiet in the garden. But I've just been outside feeding the wildlife.

Spider egg sacs on the side of a compost binIt's cold, there's snow on the ground, and all is quiet in the garden. But I've just been outside feeding the wildlife. In my case that does not mean putting up nut-filled bird feeders or hanging fat balls, it means tipping the kitchen waste into the compost bin. Even here, though, there is not much about at the moment. A couple of woodlice clamp down hard to the wooden rim and there's the remains of a hoverfly puparium (chrysalis) wedged into a crevice outside. 

Like most wildlife out there (except that woodpecker), my compost microcosm is in hibernation torpor at the moment. But I know things will burst open again in spring. Tucked into the overlapping featheredge of the lid are several untidy silk igloos. These are the egg-sacs of the spiders that inhabit the upper regions of the compost food-chain, feeding on the clouds of fruit flies, moth flies and other small insects that devour the endless cascade of banana skins and potato peels. 

I'm not sure what species they are, but I'll keep an eye out to see what emerges next year. 

And now, in an unconcealed attempt to get comments on this blog, I'm appealing for garden-based Christmas cracker jokes. 

I only know one:

Q. What is Sherlock Holmes's favourite plant in his Baker Street garden? 

A. It's a lemon tree my dear Watson.

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Talkback: Spider eggs and Christmas crackers
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Gardeners' World Web User 23/12/2009 at 13:53

Q. What do you call a spider egg in a Christmas cracker? A. Lost

Gardeners' World Web User 23/12/2009 at 19:33

All our spiders seem to have run for the bathoom vents and are now having a Christmas party in the house. I am not keen on spiders but even I haven't the heart to throw them out in this weather. I wish the website had something topical to help those of us battling the snow. After such a long, cold week my borders are peculiarly flat. All my hebes and an old privet hedge at the back have all completely collapsed under the snow. Pieris and azaleas look all limp. Almost everything else has disappeared to ground level under the white stuff but as they are mostly perennials I'm hoping most will come back next spring. At least I managed to get my pots into the garage. I'm hoping the snow will help insulate against the even colder night temperatures- or is that just an old wives tale?

Gardeners' World Web User 27/12/2009 at 11:23

I seem to get gargantuan monster-like spiders in the greenhouse. I am really scared of them, but I leave them be. If I put them out, they might make their way into the house ..........

Gardeners' World Web User 27/12/2009 at 16:29

I too went out with food and water for the birds in my (rural)garden. The footprints in the snow indicated that a whole lot of creatures visited, not just birds. Animals that we never normally spot left tracks behind. The little muntjac deer, fox, hares and rabbits, also, heaven help us, a rat or two from the fields. Even rats have to make a living in hard times, and country rats don't seem as horrid as sewer rats.

Gardeners' World Web User 28/12/2009 at 15:41

when I went down to dig up some artichokes today I discovered the badger had been marching about on the previously dug soft soil before it refroze and left his footprints. Normally we only have the distruction of things to prove he's been through, not actual foot marks. However, like my husband he won't dig up artichokes. (Nor do the rabbits).

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