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?"