Sunday, January 28, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, January 28, 2001

Hawai'i Nature Squad
That spider's 'pillow-thing' is case of eggs

The Hawai'i Nature Center
Special to The Advertiser

The cane spider’s egg case is usually filled with hundreds of baby spiderlings.

William Mull

"Crunch, crrrunch, mmmmmm . . ."

Detective Andy Anole crept up slowly, investigating the strange sound. He was hoping to get a break in his latest case. The sound was coming from a cockroach, happily munching on Cheetoh crumbs.

The lizard detective flashed his Hawaii Nature Squad badge. "Excuse me, but would you mind telling me what you’re doing under a jungle gym in a park at midnight?" he called out.

The cockroach paused from his snack. "I happen to be part of the late-night cleaning crew. I rid the park of anything I find pleasing to the palate," he said.

"Well, have you by any chance come across any white, circular, pillow-like objects, about the size of a quarter?" asked Andy.

"What’s it to you?" the cockroach countered.

"My captain asked me to identify the objects for some young children who play here," Andy said. "They say they have been finding them on the ground."

"Yeah, I saw something like that just last night. But since it was lacking in flavor, I left it alone," said the cockroach. "Try looking under that milo tree. That’s where I last saw one of those pillow-looking things."

"Much obliged," Andy called back as he trotted over to the large tree.

Andy’s dragonfly partner, Penny Pinao, flew up to him as he was searching around the tree’s roots.

"Hey Andy, got a lead?" asked Penny. "I hope so, ’cause I struck out with that kooky gang of moths. They’re too mesmerized by the street light to pay attention to my questions."

"I might be on to something," replied Andy. "A member of the night cleaning crew saw one of those strange pillow things near this tree. Help me look!"

As the two detectives scoured the ground for clues, Penny suddenly noticed something in the tree. "Andy, look up there!" she shouted.

A large, brown spider crawled slowly along the lowest tree branch. It was carrying a white, circular, pillow-like object beneath her body.

Penny flew up and hovered over the hairy creature. Andy climbed straight up the tree trunk using his sticky, padded toes.

"Hold it right there, ma’am!" commanded Penny. "Just where do you think you’re going with that thing?"

"Mmmph, mmmmph!" the spider said. She was unable to answer clearly. She was holding the object with her mouth.

"Uh, you’re wasting your time if you expect her to put down her precious cargo and talk with you folks," said another voice. It came from another large brown spider, who crawled onto the branch.

"A-ha! An accomplice!" shouted Andy.

"Not exactly," the second spider said. "My name is Camille Cane Spider. The other spider is Clara. We both live on this tree and come out at night to hunt for dinner."

"You mean Clara’s eating that pillow thing?" asked Penny.

"Are you kidding?" exclaimed Camille. "That thing’ is Clara’s egg case, and it’s full of hundreds of baby spiderlings. Clara won’t eat for nearly a month. Then, when her babies crawl out of their cushy nursery,’ she’ll leave the case behind."

"Wow," exclaimed Andy. "Talk about crash diets! Thanks for the information, Camille. Sorry to have bothered you, Clara."

"Let’s get back to headquarters and make our report to Captain W«kiu," urged Penny.

"Uh, you go ahead," said Andy. "All this talk about not eating is making me hungry. I’m going back to see if that cockroach needs a hand with those Cheetoh crumbs."

You may e-mail only if you’re 13 or older. "Hawaii Nature Squad" is written by Kim Welch, Kelly Perry and Ati Jeffers-Fabro of Hawaii Nature Center, an environmental education organization. It alternates in this spot with "Dr. Gadget’s Science Machine."

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