My Spider Journal: Octopamine Rush

Doug's Spider JournalSept 3. Return of the Return of the Wolf Spider
Remember that wolf spider that the cats chased around the kitchen floor? I had thought it was the reappearance of the wolf spider that I’d seen up on the kitchen ceiling. Well, maybe not. There is now another wolf spider in that same corner of the ceiling. So I’m thinking that this spider must be the one from before, and the cats found a different wolf spider.

I’ve been reading that this time of year is peak spider-mating season, and that explains why all of these guys are literally crawling out of the woodwork these days.

Sept 5. The Spider Vanishes
That spider on the kitchen ceiling has vanished again. And I’m pleasantly surprised that I’m not noticing this until now. Normally, if there is a spider somewhere in the apartment, I am acutely aware of it and check on it fairly frequently, just to make sure I know where it is at all times so I can avoid it. But this time, I forgot about the spider for a couple of days. Am I becoming less afraid of spiders?

Sept 12. Spider Biology
Spider comic on GoComics today. And the commenters had some great/terrifying spider stories!

It’s been a quiet week in spider circles. But I’ve been working on my script and incorporating some fun spider biology stuff that I’ve been learning. Did you know that spiders don’t have blood??! Instead of blood, they have a sticky liquid called hemolymph. Crazy! I’m also happy to discover that, instead of adrenaline, spiders have a chemical called octopamine, which has got to be the most awesomely fake-sounding name for a spider neurotransmitter. It’s like dopamine but it’s in a spider so let’s call it… “octopamine”? Even crazier is that the actual origin of the name “octopamine” has nothing to do with spiders. It’s because they first discovered it in the salivary glands of an octopus. What a great spider-octopus connection!

I left this guy alone. Maybe this is the one that ended up surprising me in the bathroom?

Saw two spiders today. One while I was on my morning walk – it was sitting in the middle of a gigantic web in a fern. And one climbing up the living room wall. Not sure where that one went.

Sept. 13. Wispy Webs in My Beard
On my walk this morning, there were four times when I felt like I’d walked through a spiderweb. Just a single strand. Strangely, this kept happening when the path was really wide and at its most unlikely to have a spider web running across it. Each time it happened, I pawed at my face for a couple of minutes, trying to make sure I got all the bits of spiderweb out of my beard. And always imagining that there might be a spider attached to one of these webs. But no! No spiders! Phew!

I’m seeing lots of spiders on my walks in Stanley Park. Makes me extra-cautious when ducking under tree branches!

Sept. 19. Writing with Spiders
Working hard to finish my Spidermania script! I’m writing the spider-filled finale and it is INTENSE! I wish I could tell you more, but I don’t want to get into any spoilers!

This morning, I got out of the shower and there was a giant yellow sac spider dangling on a web, at eye level. Apparently, nowhere is safe!

Sept 22. 1 AM. Biggest spider yet!
Our largest spider visitor yet. Is it another wolf spider? Or a parson spider? Or a mouse spider? We’re not sure, but Janet got some great closeup pictures. The spider was above our bed and it crawled into a corner of the ceiling. Armed with my mason jar and a greeting card, I used the card to fan air at the spider until it moved out of the corner. Then I was able to get the jar over it, wedge the greeting card underneath, and presto: another captured spider.

What to say about this picture? Hmmm I’m thinking “AAAAAUGH!!!” Photo by J.L. Martin

This spider was FURIOUS about being caught, and ran around the jar, around and around, making it difficult for Janet to get these pictures. I released it out the stairwell window at the far end of our building. I was pretty tired at this point, but I stayed up and did some relaxing sudoku to calm down from the spider-related adrenaline. Or should I say “octopamine”?

Creepy spider waves goodbye? Or flips us the bird? You decide! Photo by J.L. Martin.
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