This lady has been hanging out in the bushes of the parking lot at my son's school for about a week now. I've turned the pictures in to What's That Bug but I suspect they're going to tell me it's a Silver Argiope spider from the Orb Weaver family of spiders.
I took the pictures because not only is this one of the largest spiders I've ever seen, but also because I've lived here for about 39 years and have NEVER seen a spider of this type before.
I thought it was particularly unusual the way the abdomen is kind of "scalloped" with those large orange protrusions.
Another shot of the underside - it was easier to photograph from this direction without getting my hands too close. I'm willing to do a lot to advance the kidlet's scientific interest in all things buggy and gross, but getting bit by this thing is NOT on that list and lemmee tell ya - it has quite the impressive pair of fangs which you could see with the naked eye.
This is the view from the topside - at least as good as I could get it. The white structures in the web are called "stabilimenta" and according to my research there are several possible theories about what they are for. It's possible they provide stabilization to the web (hence the name) or it's possible they help make the web more visible to birds so that they don't fly into it and ruin it.
In this shot you can see how she's holding her legs in pairs and a really good view of the markings on her underside. Possibly another candidate for "photospiration?" I keep thinking that gray, black, yellow, orange, white and brown might be a kind of cool color combo.
By the way - measured diagonally from the tip of a back leg to the tip of a front leg - this spider is about the same size as my palm!
Okay, enough with the creepy-crawlies. Onto the slitheries:
This is a 3.5' ball python from Africa that my son's scoutmaster brought out to show us last night.
He is beautiful and was very well-behaved. While you couldn't PAY me enough to get too close to the spider, I did pet the snake. His name is Mickey. As in Mouse.
However, apparently his favorite food is thawed-out frozen rat.
Everybody say it with me: "MMMMM!"
Okay, after all that, it's time for something "cute and cuddly" as the "Penguins of Madagascar" (we LOVE that show) would say:
Although we live right in the heart of suburbia, it always amazes me how we are practically the rabbit capital of the world and the grass areas at my son's school seem to be ground zero for the little guys.
A few seconds before I snapped this picture there were actually SEVEN rabbits on this one little patch of grass (which is in the middle of a parking lot), but after I took the time to quietly creep up on them and had my camera all up and ready to shoot, this woman who I can only describe as seriously lacking in brains and civility proceeded to walk right up and scare them away. I just managed to barely capture these two - who are either the dumbest or the bravest of the bunch (I'm not sure which). GRRR! I was SO MAD at her.
Still life of bunny with tree.
He wanted to make sure I got a close-up of his good side.
His friend was either less brave or less accommodating - he's making a break for the hole under the fence.
Whew! Okay, that's it for this week's episode of Silver Parrot's "Wild Kingdom."
See you tomorrow when it's back to the beads!