Monday, June 11, 2007

Backyard Biodiversity Project - Steps and Spiders

Zone 1 is a narrow strip of cement steps and a raised planter dominated by Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata ‘veitchi’). Amazingly, the piles of debris that collect in the corner of the steps are alive with creatures, while the Boston ivy is a wasteland.

This exotic plant does not seem to provide food or shelter for native creatures. Most of the spiders live above the ivy or along the walkway.

I’ve noticed this before and that is why I have planted hybrids of native Heuchera or coral bells in this planter. The plants are taking hold but have yet to attract a community of native creatures.

Zone 1 is a transition zone–too close to the house to be truly inhabited by wild creatures. Anything bigger than a dime, just travels through.

Cobweb spiders (Pholcus phalangiodes) are the only exception, they thrive beneath the rafters. These are not daddy longlegs, they are long legged spiders–the spiders you see up in the corner of your living room. They are not a native species, they are a European import. They probably arrived with the first English colonists at Jamestown. Cobweb spiders are just as tied to human structures as we are. They like the environment people create and need the protection of human habitation to survive here.

Seven cobweb spiders in this small area. Hard to believe? No.

Just wait until I compile the list of all the creatures I recorded in this Zone. It was truly the Realm of Spiders.

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