The Argiope Aurantia is also known as the Black and Yellow Garden Spider, Writing Spider, or Corn Spider. The beautifully marked spiders are females; the males are equally large, but plain and brown.
This one was found on the old siding of the tobacco barn, but we mainly see them in their large webs which span the vineyard rows, cross-wise. No doubt they catch many pest and beneficial bugs in their webs! We appreciate these beauties’—stabilimentum—a “Z” like pattern that they spin in their web. It looks like a dense zig-zag of corset strings. Often, that’s our first indication that a web stretches across the row.
As we approach one of these beautifully constructed web and if a spider is in the center, the spider will start “bouncing” on the web. This makes the web undulate back and forth. Ger says that to him, it serves as a warning: “Hey! Big Spider, here! Watch out!!” Wikipedia also asserts that it helps the spider ensnare smaller prey.
Although we regularly experience the “oogie” factor in our spider encounters, spiders are an essential part of our little ecosystem and we leave them alone to do their job. However, I caveat this by telling you that I will kill a Black Widow spider on site and without hesitation, if I have the ability. Fair warning to the Black Widows…
Its was so hot today, that Tully—guest vineyard dog—welcomed the shade of a straw hat. Tully spent the day roaming about the vineyard with boy2 and now both boy2 & Tully are sleeping heavily in their own cool corners of the farm haus. Its hard to say who wore out who.
Boy + Dog = Late Spring Bliss!
This creature feature is a log from a downed tree at the top of lot 11&12′s hill, where the tall trees groan and argue amongst themselves as the wind whips over the hill and sets them afrenzy.
Can you make out the Calvin face from Calvin and Hobbes?
One of the best things about a husband’s family farm and vineyard are the little things that you just might pass by—if you aren’t looking. That’s why I prefer to tromp over the acres as much as possible—there are so many beautiful tiny things just waiting to be discovered! Today’s creature feature is a wee home (or maybe a restaurant—look at all those acorns!) someone is using at the base of a tree. This particular tree sits by the farm road as the road curves from the tool shed and the proofing acre towards the little farmhaus. As you can see, the tree sits right in front of one of our last Christmas Tree lots. Its a perfect spot for a little critter to relax and enjoy a bite or two as Spring rains fall.
Giant puff balls invade the vineyard!
Gerald inspected the vineyard early Saturday evening before we left and brought back these awesome images of what we think may be giant puffballs. From what I’ve read, the vineyard and weather conditions for puffballs were excellent—our land had recently been disturbed when we planted the vines two years ago and the recent rains were all the spores needed to spout. Ger says the vineyard floor is covered with them. We are not worried about the fungal conditions for our vines, as these are floor fungus. Although we had rain often this past week, the thirsty Southern Maryland soil sucked up the moisture and the light autumn breeze dried the leaf canopy well.
Calvatia gigantea are credited to be edible when young, but I think I might stick to my baby bellas and white buttons until we get an expert mushroom identifier. Wild mushrooms can be difficult to identify and eating the wrong ‘shroom, deadly—or at the very least, very gastro-intestinal upsetting!
Puffball "fairy ring" among the second year Barbera vines!