Here and there among the grass glistening in the rising sun, I saw hundreds of ragged, gauzy-looking little “web blankets.” Our neighbor's manicured lawn was also dotted with them.
Many were stretched out flat, little trapezoids close to the ground. But the ones in the wooded areas were more free-form, appearing to be stuffed between the base of a tree and a clump of weeds, or between a wide rock and a tall plant. Some of these gauzy coverings sported random threads that stretched upward in different directions. Some seemed to be slightly different and I could see sort of a funnel hole disappearing downward.
Strange. On previous walks these hundreds of webby things weren't here! I speculated that these translucent, white patches must be some kind of spider webs. I decided to do a little research.
I found that some of the webs could have been made by grass spiders, members of a large family of arachnids called Agelenidae or funnel web weavers. The brownish or greyish spider who is at home hiding in the web may reach a size of about 3/4 inch. Some of the webs we sweep off of our outdoor decks and porches are also likely to be the webs of funnel web weavers.
They are different from orb spiders who create a circular web with spokes that traps prey in its sticky threads. But the funnel weaver’s web is not sticky. Funnel web spiders are hunters. The orb spider senses the vibrations of a struggling insect caught in its web. But this spider depends on its great speed and its relatively good eyesight to catch its food.
An insect flying over the funnel web weaver’s web may hit one of those stray threads and get knocked down onto the web. Before the insect can fly off again, the spider darts out of its funnel, spots the insect with its eight eyes, and dashes across the web to bite the insect, thus paralyzing it. The spider then drags the insect down into the web’s funnel to devour it.
YIKES! I don't like spiders of any kind! They seem creepy and mysterious and I avoid them at all costs!
There is another possibility. The jury is still out on whether the ones dotting our lawns might be a fungus. But garden-wise experts say, “For the most part, whatever spins webs would be spiders, or spider mites, although some moth caterpillars also do that in trees or shrubs. If these webs are in the grass or across plants in the garden it is quite certain that they have been made by spiders to catch insects for food.”
Honestly, I really don't care what causes these webby blankets. I'm simply looking for some “lesson for the day” for myself from this unexpected display of nature or the insect world that I observed during my walk.
Here's what I came up with: All those white, gauzy whatevers remind me of the dangerous mines hidden in fields during some past or present war. Their purpose is to inflict on-going, serious damage or unsuspecting people even after the enemy has gone. The left-behind mines are not visible but nonetheless deadly when disturbed or stepped on. These webby things either disappear or become invisible in the hot, bright sunshine later in the day.
The invisible enemy of our souls, the Scripture says, prowls about seeking to trap us. The lethal mines hidden in the sand or dirt are present all the time but can't be seen. These webby morning insect traps may be there all the time too but they are only visible when the atmosphere is just right to reveal them. Temptations are all around us and we must walk circumspectly to avoid falling into Satan's hidden traps. Let's walk in the Light as Jesus, our Lord, is in the light, and we will not fall into temptation, but be delivered from evil.
Well, the analogy is far from perfect, but it will do to caution me to be on the alert about invisible but very real temptations and keep walking in the Light of Jesus..