On a bright, beautiful, sunny Spring day, I went spider hunting in a cemetery more than a century old. It wasn’t eerie or creepy, and my sister thinks I’m crazy. I am a volunteer for the arachnologist at Seattle’s Burke Museum. I guess the preferred term is “spider collecting.”
I picked up Rod in the morning and drove south towards Vader, not even a wide spot in the road off the I5 corridor, and not terribly far, in miles or spirit, from where I grew up. The cemetery is just out of town, but you’d never notice being in town. Sounds like a movie, Spider Hunt: Cemetery Watch
During the drive, I thought about spiders, trying to think of music that had something to do with our arachnid friends. I remembered the Lime Spiders, a psychedelic band from the 1980s, and I remembered not listening to them much. That would have to change.
They’re pretty good. Randomly, here are some tracks.
I learned many things during the day. A spider is an order of arachnid. Arachnids are a class of arthropods (joint-legged invertebrate animals). The arachnids also include scorpions, ticks, mites, harvestmen, and solifuges. (You are not alone, I had never heard of a solifuge.) (For those that don’t remember high school biology, the taxonomy goes like this: domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.)
To catch, hunt, or collect spiders, and properly catalogue them, you need to pay attention to the habitat. On this Saturday, in this pleasant graveyard, we searched leaf mulch, moss, fir trees, shrubbery, grasses, tomb stones, fallen pine cones, and an out building (for house spiders). Across the road, in a clear-cut / new-growth forest area, we further searched the habitats of ferns and tall grasses. There are different techniques, which generally have something to do with trying to get the spider to “fall out of it’s habitat” so you can see it. (The exception is the wolf spider, which quickly runs amok in 20 directions, trying to avoid you. I caught several and felt badly for the little guys.) For example, hunting in leaf mulch: you pick up some mulch, put into a wire-mesh shaker, shake onto a white sheet, and see what falls out. Bits of dirt and partially-degraded plant matter, lots of little beetles and ants, centipedes, and other creepy crawly things, and spiders.
Of course, there’s “Boris the Spider” from The Who. But you don’t need kill spiders; be not afraid – the spider just wants to eat bugs, and those also probably freak you out.
Rod wants you to know that the house spider that you guys call a “daddy long-legs” is not a spider, it is a harvestman. It is an arachnid. It is a myth that its venom is poisonous to humans. It is a myth that its fangs are too small to bite you – it doesn’t bite you because you are not its prey.
Rod was telling me that his favorite music was primarily bebop jazz. Benny Goodman had a trio, sometimes quartet, that played some innovative jazz; of course, he’s more well known for his work in the big band swing era. Benny Goodman — “Where Or When”
And for jazz vocals, he prefers Anita O’Day. I’ll feature “Honeysuckle Rose”.