Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When the science lesson crawls up on the porch

       We might have decided against an unschooling approach to home schooling but that doesn’t mean we can’t still take advantage of unexpected educational opportunities, especially when they crawl right into our midst, so to speak.  

This morning we woke to find this: 

Our unexpected visitor-- known scientifically as "Heteropoda venatoria"

perched above our front porch.   

Now, when Tim and I discussed where we might want to live and raise our family years ago, I shared with him that I really wanted to live in the south where the weather was warm and the winters mild.  “I just don’t want to live in Florida,” I had said, “because the bugs are too big there.”  

This would be what I was talking about.   

Wikipedia's even more impressive picture of a huntsman spider

After a little research via the internet, research that included viewing dozens of different spiders- wolf spiders, banana spiders, white banded fishing spiders, and others, and comparing them against our own newest little resident. We identified our creepy crawly arachnid friend as a male huntsman spider (Heteropoda venatoria) .  Then we learned that they feed on palmetto bugs and cockroaches, which if you know anything about Florida, you know get to be very big and very abundant in these parts.  It is no wonder the spiders are so big- you should see their lunch!  We also learned they can be found in Puerto Rico, Australia, and China and that some people have had them in their houses!  They are poisonous but their bite is not really harmful to people.

            Our lesson ended, when we tried to see how fast the spider would move when scared by flying bits of mulch, supplied happily by my boys.  The spider did move quickly.  We moved even more quickly (out of his way) and after a little screaming and a little freaking out (the children learned how squeamish mommy is around spiders, but I am not sure that was a new discovery!), we parted ways.   And now we know way more about big hairy spiders than we ever cared to know......

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