Saturday, October 4, 2008


It looks as though I won't be needing my fake spiders to decorate for Halloween this year. The real thing is just so much better. He was sitting on the window ledge ready to have his photograph taken. I'm going to call him a tarantula although this has become just a general term for hairy spiders. The real tarantula comes from the town of Taranto in Italy. The townspeople thought that the only way to survive the sting of this spider was to do a frantic dance, the tarantella. I remember learning a piece in music. The poor tarantula has an undeserved reputation. His bite does not kill. The worst it may do is leave you feeling a little sick.
This is not the first tarantula to show up in the garden. A couple of years ago we witnessed a strange sight. An insect dragging a baby tarantula. It was a tarantula killer or hawk. It had captured and stung this spider and was getting ready to lay an egg. I won't go any further on that one as we all know the ending to that story.

This might have been the kind of spider that surprised Miss Muffett as she was eating her curds and whey.

A couple of days later I was reading in a British gardening magazine about Miss Muffett the daughter of the celebrated British entomologist Thomas Muffett (1553-1604). How interesting, I thought, Little Miss Muffett was a real person- or was she?. There are many theories as to who the little girl was and this one ties in quite nicely with Thomas Muffett's career. He wrote The Theatre of Insects which was a catalogue of British native insects. He specialized in Arachnids. However,  Thomas did not have a daughter although there are stories out there that he had a daughter called Patience. He did have two stepdaughters but their name was Brown. Don't believe everything you read on the internet. The charming painting above is by Scott Gustafson.


  1. I have never been a big fan of spiders. I find them most definitely creepy. If I had found that big spider in my garden... I'm not sure what I would have done...

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. Strange coincidence - I surfed over from Carol's Tweet to look at your spider and noticed that the Miss Muffett illustration is one painted by my cousin, Scott Gustafson. Small world.

  3. Hi entangled. It was remiss of me not to have mentioned the artist's name. I have remedied that.

  4. Oh man, I love this small world stuff, Jenny & Entangled!

    We've only had one tarantula sighting in 9 years here and I ran for my camera, too.

    That tarantella story was in my cousin's music book when I was a kid - she was the one who had the piano lessons.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  5. Augh! That's huge! The first time I saw a tarantula outside of the pet store was when I was climbing down some rocks by the ocean in Hawaii. Boy, was it not fun when I realized that what I had assumed was clumps of dried seaweed on the rocks were indeed huge hairy tarantulas, and I got to climb through a field of them to get back to the car.


    I've only seen one in my garden so far, but it wasn't much bigger than a quarter. And it was hanging out on a pink rose, no less. It's too bad I didn't have my camera, because it would have been a fun still life: "Belinda's Dream With Tarantula."

  6. I try to leave crevices under and around rocks in my rock work to have places for the tarantulas to live. Toads like the holes as well. I had one for a pet as a kid and man could it eat a lot of bugs. They are definitely good to have, your a lucky person.

  7. Gee, Lancashire Rose, you didn't have to credit Scott with the illustration, but it was thoughtful and I thank you! It was just so odd, my coming over to look at spiders and finding his painting.