Friday, December 18, 2009

The Legend of the Christmas Spider

Years ago someone, if I remember correctly my mother, bought a spider ornament for my Christmas tree. It came with a book that tells the Legend of the Christmas Spider. Here is the story.

A long, long time ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year ... Christmas Day. Not a speck of dust was left anywhere. Even the little spiders had been banished from their cozy corner high up on the ceiling. To avoid the housewife's busy cleaning, they finally fled to the farthest corner of the forgotten attic.

Finally, it was Christmas Eve. The tree was decorated and the children delighted. But the poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree, nor be present for the magic of the season. The oldest and wisest spider suggested that perhaps they could wait until everyone had gone to bed and then sneak through the crack in the door to see the wonders of the tree. The little spiders silently and carefully came down out of their attic corner and across the floor to wait in the crack on the threshold.

Pretty soon all was quiet, so the spiders quickly crept into the room. The tree towered so high that they couldn't see the ornaments on top. In fact, the little spiders' eyes were so small that they could only see one ornament at a time. They all scurried up the trunk, out along each branch, filled with a happy wonder at the glittering beauty. The spiders loved the Christmas tree. All night long, they danced in the branches, and every place they went left a trail of dusty, gray web. When at last they had inspected every bit of the Christmas tree, it was shrouded in the dusty gray of spider webs.

Santa smiled as he thought of the happy spiders seeing the tree and how much they liked it, but he also thought of how sad the mother would be over the dusty tree. He reached out his hand and touched the tree just as the sun came in the window. All the webs started to sparkle and shine turning into shimmering, sparkling silver and gold. The tree glistened in greater beauty than ever before!

While we need to overlook some of the biological information, it's still a nice story for the holidays. I personally think everyone should have a spider ornament on their tree- not because of the legend of the Christmas spider, but just because spiders are cool! Happy holidays!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ladybug video

For those of you who couldn't view the ladybug video, here's a link that will take you to You Tube to watch it there:

Ladybug video

Friday, December 4, 2009

Brrrrr- Baby It's Cold Outside!

Have you been outside today? I would think that somehow I got transported back to Ohio if I weren't currently sitting in my office in Austin listening to Christmas carols. Holy crikey- it's COLD! There was a reason that I moved to avoid the COLD!

The good things about the cold turn in the weather:
1. hubby is excited that it might snow (being a Texan, things like snow excite him while I've had my fill of snow while tramping around Ohio State- walking to class in snow/slush & freezing temperatures is not a good time)
2. the boy might get to see snow for the first time- great photo op, right?
3. mulled cider and hot chocolate- mmmmm
4. deer chili- double mmmmm
5. it helps my Christmas spirit

Okay, so onto the buggy part of this post. I often get questions- mostly from children- about where bugs go during the winter. Adaptations that insects have to survive the winter:

1. Migration
Insects move to a location where temperatures are not as cold. The most well known example of migrating insects is probably the Monarch butterfly.

2. Freeze tolerance
Some insects are able to survive having some of their body tissues frozen. When temperatures warm up, the insect "thaws out" and goes about it's business.

3. Communal living
Many insects will cluster together and use collective heat to survive freezing temperatures. Ladybugs are a good example. The video below is a clip I took on a recent trip to Ohio. The ladybugs begin aggregating each fall and usually find their way into my parent's house. The video shows them gathering on my grandparent's motorhome.

4. Insect antifreeze
(read on...this is going to make great dinner conversation for you tonight!)
Some insects produce glycerol, a compound similar to anti-freeze, in the fall to prepare for overwintering. These compounds allow body tissues to supercool and remain above their freezing point.

So now that you know how the bugs are going to survive tonight, what do you have in mind to keep warm?