The Prettiest Spider?

Little Miss Muffet,
Sat on her tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.
When along came a spider
And sat down beside her
And... Little Miss Muffet said,
"My what a pretty spider you are!"

It's a good thing that it wasn't the Mabel Orchard Spider that sat down next to the dining Little Miss Muffet in the famous Mother Goose story.  Had it been this spider, the poetic ending of "scared Little Miss Muffet away" may have never occurred.

The Mabel Orchard Spider is a beautiful spider of gleaming golden hues, silvery reflections, and iridescent greens, blues and yellows.  The spider's legs look like fluorescent fishing monofilment in the sunlight.  This is a gorgeous spider!

The spider's scientific name is Leucauge venusta.  Leucauge seems to indicate the Greek work "leukos" meaning "white".  (source)  (I was kind of  disappointed with that definition.  I was hoping for an exotic translation like "Silver mercury death dealer." )  

But that isn't to say that this spider doesn't have more to offer than just a pretty body.  It is also unique in that it builds its web horizontally to the ground or leaning at a steep angle.   Most orb weaver spiders build their webs perpindicular to the ground.

I can hear both of my readers now, "Boring!"  OK, then consider the following about the Mabel Orchard Spider-  another unique feature of this species is that the females have a special covering protecting the opening to their reproductive organs- sort of like a chastity belt for spiders.   Really- I'm not making that up.  (Does that even sound like something that someone would make up?) 

But don't let this beauty fool you.  She is deadly.  Deadly to insects, that is- and harmless to people.  She also gets around- a real pantropic beauty- meaning- she can be found from Canada to Central America.  

Hopefully this article will help to promote a better understanding of the Mabel Orchard Spider.  However, I guess that there are some things that we may never know, such as- "Why is the spider called Mabel?"  "What is a tuffet?" and most importantly, "What is a 'whey' and why was Little Miss Muffet eating it?"


Steve said...

That is a pretty spider. Just out of curiousity I looked up the Greek "leukos" from another Source and its meaning is, brilliant from whiteness, (dazzling) white. Which I think would be accurate for your 'silvery reflections' observation.
Also, I think curds and whey is "pre-cheese". One of them is the protein rich liquid and the other is the soft future cheese material. I do wonder about the 'Mabel' name though.

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

You are hysterical, Daniel! Not only is that one way cool and gorgeous spider, but your description and writing makes for a grand read this blustery Sunday morning. And no, I've never seen one of these either. You're amazing. You should write a book.

Daniel Spurgeon said...

Thanks Steve and Debi. Your comments really made my day! Debi, I always enjoy visiting your blog and reading your musings and admiring your photos! Steve, you should start a blog, you would be good at it. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interesting and entertaining description of the spider! I just saw one of these bad boys hanging outside my front door. I am generally scared of spiders but this one was admittedly pretty... all silvery with black streaks. Glad its not poisonous to people.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

A beautiful spider and post, Daniel. I am not fond of spiders but have taking a liking to this one. :D

I think whey is a watery part of milk on the cheese process.

Great photo and you you have a great way with words!!!

Hugs, JJ

Bug Man said...

I brought two of these home today for my wife... I'm an exterminator and have a lovely collection of spiders... I still favor the yellow/black zipper spider. All the cute ones are named charolette.

Anonymous said...

Definition of Whey

Whey - the serum or watery part of milk that is separated from the curd in making cheese.
Definition of Tuffet

1. Noun. A low seat or a stool to rest the feet of a seated person.
Exact synonyms: Footrest, Footstool, Ottoman
Generic synonyms: Stool

Definition of Tuffet
2. a clump of grass [n -S]

Anonymous said...

I've been baffled for years why my Aunt told me at a very young age that all spiders living in the kitchen are named "Mabel". And just last night I learned that a friend had a Grandmother who told him the exact same thing!

Thanks for the info! :)

Marie said...

I was told by someone who knew a lot about spiders that the man who named the Mabel Orchard Spider named it after his wife Mabel and that he found it in an orchard.

Jeff Davis said...

We've got one of these outside the front stoop and my daughter and grandson enjoy her company every morning as they await the school bus. I'm afraid one of these days she will not be there and everyone will be sad. And yes her webbing is horz. different than any of the others around. Thank you for an enjoyable read. Oh, our spider lives in south east Texas, Sugar Land.