Charlotte, the orb-weaver

Meet Charlotte, the half dollar-sized orb-weaver spider I’ve been watching for a few days. Every night she gets to work building a web over a foot in diameter, connected by long anchor filaments, including one attached to my roof over 7-ft away. One morning I awoke to find her wrapping up an early caught honey bee, and then dragging the mummified corpse across the web and down one of the suspension lines, before settling into a dark nook on a nearby strawberry tree where she set to work feasting on the remains. She sleeps in the same nook all day while her huge web catches far too much prey for her to consume. It breaks my heart that she was smart enough to set up shop right in the path of hundreds of honey bees that frequent my native plants all day. I got up too late today to make sure she had eaten something before I pulled down her web. I just can’t watch a dozen honey bees perish for no reason, and I worry about the passing butterflies and even hummingbirds. (Yes the web is that big and strong.) But I did put one encased insect on her tree branch in case she had missed her morning meal before retiring to her nook to sleep for the day. Damn my tender heart. I don’t want Charlotte to starve, but I want to save as many bees and other creatures as possible. Such is my torturous plight.

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