Tuesday, February 8, 2011

E.B. White's Inspiration for Charlotte's Web: The Writing Spider

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White is one of my favorite childhood stories. This week I came across a bunch of articles discussing the type of spider that inspired White. It is the harmless black and yellow garden spider, Argiope aurantia. They are also known as the writing spider because they weave stablimentia or zigzag patterns into their webs, which resemble writing. What a beautiful creature! I love their yellow and black banding.

In this photo you can clearly see the stablimentia.

These spiders are harmless to humans. If you pinch them hard, they will bite, but they will not if you pick them up gently. You will not get sick from their bite like the black widow or brown recluse.

Writing spiders are beneficial to the environment, so if you see one hanging out in your garden, please don't disturb them. They eat mosquitos, moths, and other flying insects.

Next time you're outdoors, perhaps you'll be inspired too. I'm sure Charlotte will be looking out for you.

Fun spider fact: Spiders are venomous, not poisonous. Venom is injected into the skin. Poison is ingested.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!


Marva Dasef said...

Hi Nora: Thanks for dropping in on my blog. We seem to both be in the fun side of literature: Genre. My writing tends toward humor fantasy than horror, but I've written a creepy story or two in my time.

Nice to meet you. I'll subscribe to your blog on Google blog reader.

Irina said...

Interesting article - enjoyed reading it!



Nora B. Peevy said...

Thank you, Marva. Lately, I've been leaning more towards fantasy.

Melissa Donovan said...

I always wondered what kind of spider Charlotte was. Thanks for sharing this. Charlotte's Web is my all-time, favorite book (well, one of them ;)

Doug said...

I have one of these spiders living on my front porch. Although I've always been repulsed by arachnids and normally done away with them on sight, I've allowed this one to guard my door. Thanks for letting me know it's harmless unless terribly provoked. And for letting me know i have my own Charlotte nearby. :)

Nora B. Peevy said...

Glad you can rest easy, Doug. :)


Susan Silver said...

I never thought it was based on a real spider. This is a really interesting little fact. It is still one of my favorite books to re-read even as an adult.

Nora B. Peevy said...

Susan, I didn't learn this until about 1997. By then I was almost out of college, so don't feel too bad. LOL

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