Nature has a plan

Monarch in spider web

Following the life of a spider is both beautiful and tragic. Yesterday, while I was out walking the dogs, Charlotte caught a majestic monarch butterfly in her web. By the time I noticed, the butterfly had succumbed to her entrapment and was completely motionless. All day I hoped that this would be the last creature to fall prey to Charlotte in this 24-hour period. Surely a monarch for dinner would be more than enough to satiate Charlotte’s appetite, even though she had gone to bed on an empty stomach the night before. My wish appeared to be coming true until just before sunset when, to my horror, another monarch got ensnared. As the elegant creature struggled violently to escape, I watched in misery, desperately waiting for some of her “safety” scales to break loose, like quick release velcro, freeing her from a most unfortunate fate. When it appeared this was not to be the case, I couldn’t resist a rescue operation, even though I knew that one wrong move could cause the web to recoil and tighten its grip on her delicate wings. Using the tiniest of fabric scissors, I slowly and meticulously clipped the web away from her appendages and wing. To my utter disbelief, and absolute and complete joy, she fluttered away gracefully – hopefully to live a full life and join her friends for the annual monarch migration.

That night, Charlotte came out late to dinner and I fretted that perhaps the monarch she had successfully caught was too big for her to handle and would, instead, have died in vain. But that was not the case. Upon witnessing Charlotte wrap the monarch in silk and begin to feast, I was extremely conflicted – feeling both an immense sense of relief and an intense feeling of disgust. I turned my camera away, deciding not to watch any more of the intimate details.

Charlotte sleeping The next morning, to my surprise, Charlotte had not rebuilt her web as was her customary behavior, but I did find her in her normal place of slumber throughout the day. Tonight she was back at it again, building a new web at dusk. I marveled at what I had witnessed. Charlotte had intentionally taken a day off from trapping, not needing to hunt unnecessarily after having consumed such a large meal the night before. She had exercised grace and dignity, right before my very eyes. I love this spider.

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