A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
Begin your amazing adventure of discovering the arachnids of Illinois’ Historic Route 66 within the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Tread softly and carefully to discover a spider’s exotic habitat beneath the tangled brush or in webs elegantly extended between low-hanging branches. The orb weavers of Charlotte’s Web fame weave delicate circular webs high off the ground to capture flying insects. The Prairie Creek Woods at Midewin is a wonderful spot to see one such as the Orchard Orbweaver, a spider who likes to sit squarely in the middle of its web. On the other hand, funnel-web weavers rely on their speed rather than sticky silk threads to capture prey. Get a closer look at the hunting style of funnel-web weavers by gently agitating a funnel web with a twig to trigger the spider into action. Be careful not to damage the web! Once a spider finds a successful hunting ground, it often stays, allowing you ample opportunities to return and track a specific spider’s behavior.
The Spider Guide of Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie identifies 12 of the more than 28 species commonly found in Illinois.The guide‘s Spider Key lists questions to help you find, identify and classify unique characteristics of individual spiders, such as the zebra stripes of Zebra Jumpers, the color-changing exoskeleton of the Goldenrod Crab, and the bright green eyes of the Wolf. The best time to view spiders is during the evenings of late summer, though spiders can be seen in early spring and autumn as well. Experience the thrills of spider watching, and like Walt Whitman, encounter the beauty and mystery of “a noiseless patient spider.”
Along with spider watching, Midewin, the first National Tallgrass Prairie, is known for bicycling and horse riding trails, nature viewing, camping, and more. Made up of more than 20,000 acres near Wilmington, IL, Midewin is the largest region of open land in the Chicago area. Visit Midewin year round for many recreational activities.
- Copyright © October 2009 Justin McGregor.
- Copyright © May 2010 Jeff Burcher.