The spider and the fly.
Sunrise: 05.46 am Sunset: 08.42 pm
I have favourite places in Hoo Wood and on the marsh: insect hot-spots, east and west-facing trees, bushes, and grassy places covered in wild flowers bathed in light when the sun shines. These are my special places, where I watch for tiny movements and listen to tell-tale sounds that give away the hiding places of creepy crawlies. I wait patiently for the small flying things that flit around me to settle on leaves, branches and blooms. Over the years, I have discovered which insects are where and when I am likely to see them.
I wait close to one of these hot-spots, watching bumble bees, hover-flies and butterflies busily working a bramble bush. I hear faint, frantic, intermittent, and sometimes intense buzzing. A fly is caught on the end of a single strand of spider silk, in amongst bramble flowers. A spider slowly reels-in the fly, bit by bit, as the super-thin strand slackens, and the fly struggles desperately to escape a grizzly death.
Over a period of perhaps ten minutes, I watch a mini-drama unfold. A drama that is up there with the best of them – you need to be here to appreciate the full intensity of the action, not to mention the mind crippling tension it creates. Moreover, if like me, you are the type of person to revel in the intricacies of this type of real action packed thriller, then maybe, just maybe, you should consider seeking professional help! I did, and am allowed to enthuse about it without embarrassment or any fear of retribution. I am told often enough that I should ‘get a life’, but I don’t care!
The plot involves an escalating fight sequence in which a spider and a fly are pitted against one another: the spider to gain a meal, and the fly its freedom. The fly fights bravely to break the single strand of silk that tethers it to a bramble. Using only the power of its wings, its momentum, and its minuscule muscle power, the fly struggles to avoid the nerve numbing strike of the spider’s venomous fangs. Each time the fly makes a break, it is brought to a muscle wrenching halt by the silken tether. As the intrepid fly darts in and out, the spider takes-up the slack. The length of time between escape attempts increases as the fly tires, and the distance between it and the spider decreases. The fly responds with increasingly desperate tactics; it throws itself, recklessly, from side to side, and in every other possible direction, pulling on the silk with all its might.
Eventually, the fly’s escape attempts are on the wane, whilst the spider’s efforts increase. I wait for the spider to finish the job, but the fly makes one last tremendous effort to save its bacon. I emphasis here that it was possible for me to sense the fly’s final supreme effort; I can see the sweat of its brow. The fly’s tenacity pays off: either the silk strand has broken, which I doubt; the adhesive has yielded, or the fly has parted company with one of its legs. I don’t know which of these scenarios is correct, but the fly has survived to fight another day. Hooray for the small things, and the pleasure they bring me! 😀