World on a Rail

spider on wooden fence rail

A little male (as suggested by the large pedipalps) spider at the edge.

There is a split-rail wooden fence at my home which pops up in the backgrounds of my photos from time to time. It is a pretty banal thing as far as fences go, but if you snoop around it, more often than not there’s bound to be some bug on it. Off the top of my head, I have photographed mirid plant bugs, paper wasps, robber flies (with and without prey), house and blow flies, mating ants, click beetles, jumping spiders, orbweaver spiders, wolf spiders, an assassin bug nymph, weevils, and others all on the fence. Sometimes I like the soft greys and browns of the background (as in this shot!) and other times they fall a little flat, but regardless it is pretty neat all the activity that goes on there.

If we anthropomorphize a bit, it is perhaps even more intriguing. Many of the bug visitors to the fence are transient, just making a stop to bask in the sun or get some wood fibers to make a nest, or whatever, but a spider like this might reliably spend all or most of its life on the fence (so to speak). I wonder how bug-sized humans might live there: Would it be like a desert? Would the green expanses in the distance be forbidden lands or maybe impossible alien worlds themselves? Spiders as lions and bears? Wasps as dragons? For the bugs alone, it seems like a different, impossible world standing right there in its own hidden-in-daylight atmosphere; I can only imagine what such an odd terrain might hold for us.

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