Catch of the Day

It's early morning and the spider is hungry. 

It snares a honey bee foraging for pollen and nectar in a patch of Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifola) in a Vacaville pollinator garden. 

The spider slides down the sticky web, kills its prey with a venomous bite, and begins to eat.

The spider is not alone. It soon has unexpected dining partners: tiny freeloader flies (family Milichiidae) who did no work but insist on their share of the free food. 

Indeed, orbweavers are artists. Wrote Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) in her poem, "The Spider as an Artist":

The spider as an artist
Has never been employed
Though his surpassing merit
Is freely certified.

Today was a good day for an unemployed artist, freely certified, too--and a good day for the freeloaders, certified hungry.

Emily Dickinson? She wrote many poems with references to such arthropods as bees, spiders, butterflies, flies and gnats,

Emily Dickinson's Arthropods

"By my count, 180 of Dickinson's 1,775 poems refer to one or more arthropods," wrote U.S. Army medical entomologist (retired) Louis C. Rutledge in The American Entomologist, summer of 2003.

Who knew?