What’s that, down in the basement, vibrating?

Our pests, ourselves

Al B of Hartland reports: “There is a vibrating spider in a sink in our basement.

“It would do me no good to call a plumber.


“When I run water in that sink, the spider rushes to attack. When it discovers that it has been duped by a false prey, it scrambles away and begins to vibrate.

“Cellar spiders are often found in damp locations like basements, crawl spaces and cellars, and are often confused with daddy longlegs, which are not spiders.

“Some cellar spiders use a sneaky trick to catch food. When food is scarce, they abandon their webs and seek the webs of other spiders. They tap on a web, mimicking the actions of a trapped insect. When the owner of the web comes to catch its prey, the cellar spider captures and eats it. When they are disturbed or when they are under a threat of attack, cellar spiders start vibrating violently in their webs to discourage an enemy. This has earned them the common name of vibrating spiders.”

Our birds, ourselves
Ask Al B Division

Birdwatcher in La Crescent: “I have a question for Al B of Hartland:

“We see the wrens in the spring. They make their nests, raise their little ones and then fly away. Where do they go? We never see them again all summer. They certainly don’t migrate that early, do they?”

BULLETIN BOARD NOTES: Al B of Hartland, as you almost certainly know, is our Official Ornithologist. We await his wrenly insights.

The vision thing

Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake: “I spotted this hornets’ nest in a tree that looks like a mummy’s head and face from the side view. The hornets were flying in and out of it.



“What do the readers think about the resemblance?”

Ask Bulletin Board (responsorial)

In the August 22 Bulletin Board, Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota, wrote:

“Subject: Wonder what these are.

“We spotted these on the side of our flower box near a tree. Looks like the top of the shell is opened up, and something must have crawled out of the shell.

“Any readers know what this was, or what it is now?”

We presently heard from several B. Boarders:

Lucky Buck:Doris G., I am guessing cicada. Just returned from the eclipse in Nashville, and they make a horrendous noise — but again, just guessing.”

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “First I googled ‘beetles’ and went to Images. Lots of them, aren’t there? But no luck.

“Next I went to ‘beetles split exoskeleton’ and discovered the real reason Paul, John, George and Ringo parted ways.

“Finally I checked ‘beetles split exoskeleton Images” and found this.

“So now I’ve hopefully solved the problem and shown my work! CICADA!”

Jim Fitzsimons of St. Paul: “Now, I’m no entomologist. But those discarded exoskeletons appear to be from cicadas. Here’s a video of a cicada shedding its exoskeleton.”

Everyone’s a copy editor!

Rusty of St. Paul: “Last weekend, I was reading — in the Pioneer Press sport pages — a box that listed the baseball teams in the wild-card race. There were maybe eight to 10 teams — grouped really tightly. The Twins were in second place with 62 wins. In first? The Yankees! Win total? 55 games. What the…? Just because they are the Damned Yankees, do they get some kind of handicap or something?”


Donald: “Subject: At least they got the Twins’ name and statistics right.

“On the front page of the Sports section in Monday’s Pioneer Press was a box labeled ‘AL WILD CARD STANDINGS.’

“These were the top three teams:

“‘Yankees 55-57 +2.5

“‘TWINS 63-59

“‘Angles 64-60′

“The ‘Standings AMERICAN LEAGUE,’ on Page 2B, told a somewhat different story. The Yankees’ record was listed as ’66-57,’ and the ‘Angles’ were nowhere to be found.”

Life as we know it

From The (Soon-To-Be-Former) City Girl on the Plains: “I have taken a respite from packing boxes with crumpled old newspapers to share a couple more Cute Kid Stories, one of which is apropos of a recent BB theme.

“I guess it’s about perspective. As my 70th birthday looms in the not-too-distant future, I have found that most adults tend to underestimate my age, sometimes by as much as 10 years, though my hair is largely silver.

“Recently, I was returning from the communal mailbox for our townhouse complex when I happened to meet a new neighbor. I would judge her to be about 6 or 7 years old. After introductions, she elected to accompany me on the walk as I headed home. The route took us by a couple of scrub oak trees which were providing an abundant selection of acorns for the local squirrels, who indiscriminately distributed them around the trees and on the sidewalk. After a distinct crunching sound, my new companion pointed out that I had stepped on an acorn. I replied that it was hard to avoid them, thinking in particular of my size 9 walking shoes, as compared to her hop-scotching along in her dainty flip-flops. She countered with: ‘Especially if you’re kind of old.’ (It was nice of her to qualify it with ‘kind of.’) As I said, I think it’s about perspective. I doubled over with laughter as I related the story to the Golf Pro.

“My second contribution pertains to a trip to a Renaissance Festival in the Phoenix area, several years back. The Golf Pro and I took our eldest granddaughter, who was/is very much enamored of fantasy, i.e. dragons, etc. She had only recently selected a nice bright blue for the new braces on her teeth, and a costumed couple immediately noted her ‘tooth jewels’ as we entered the festival.

“We visited various booths where I found a vase and Ashley fell in love with a plush dragon. After a bit of discussion, The Golf Pro and I agreed to buy the dragon and call it an early birthday present. (Her delight was, of course, our reward.)

“We moved on to find that elephant rides were offered (a first for any Renaissance Festival we had attended), and she was eager to participate. Since each animal had a limited seating capacity, the Golf Pro opted out and watched from a distance, rubbing his knees (which were badly in need of replacement), while Ashley and I mounted up. We rode around in a circle with about half a dozen other pachyderms, taking in the view from our elevated station, until the animal directly in front of us stopped to relieve himself (herself?) — thoroughly — bringing the procession to a halt while men with shovels and a wheelbarrow removed the elephant droppings. The accompanying aroma was notable, to say the least, and I was eager to complete this little excursion, as I seriously doubted my nose would ever rid itself of that particular fragrance.

“At dismount, we were greeted by the Golf Pro, who, laughingly, inquired as to our level of enjoyment, noting that he too was well aware of our olfactory experience, even from the distance at which he had chosen to rest. But for his knees, I might have kicked him.

“We continued making our way through the festival, stopping for various refreshments, music, etc. and then, after a couple more hours, headed home.

“As we returned our charge to her immediate family, the Golf Pro asked Ashley what part of the day had been the best for her. (Surely, her new dragon, I thought.) She replied, without hesitation: ‘The elephant ride.’

“To each her own, I guess.”

Band Name of the Day: That Particular Fragrance

Website of the Day: Pholcidae


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