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A long time ago, I was a child. (I started out as Cathy First from Colon, Mi.) For the past several years I’ve been an adult. A lot of things went on between those two stages of life; probably no more or no less than anyone elses. My husband and I moved to “da U .P” from southern Lower Michigan several years ago (yes we were trolls at one time). We owned and operated and operate Clementz’s Northcountry Campground and Cabins just north of Newberry, Michigan until May 2015. We have grown kids and grandkids (who all live downstate). My passion is life and all that Nature has to offer us and trying to photograph it in unique ways. Our intention in life is to see all that Nature has to offer us. We hope that you will be a part of our adventures as we cruise through our lives together. Come back often!

Friday, October 06, 2006


As you know, I do NOT like spiders.

Dan and I have been splitting wood for the past 2 days and I really don’t even think about the possibility of spiders while handling the wood; I think more about tics. I’ve got my customary anti-tic Yooper attire on when we split wood. But now, after reading this article, I’m gonna have to carry A COUPLE of those Osage orange, monkey ball things with me! I did not know that Michigan has black widow spiders; did you??? I like to learn something new every day, but this wasn’t high on my priority list. Gives me the shivers……read on….

Wednesday, October 4, 2006 2:40 PM EDT

October is my favorite month of the year.The weather is not too hot and not too cold. The trees are in full fall bloom. And there is a hint of mystery in the air thanks to one of my favorite holidays, Halloween. (MY THOUGHTS; SO FAR I AGREE!!)

In honor of this time of year when ghosts and monsters seem to be around every corner, my Nature Notebook will be geared toward the scary, weird and mysterious aspects of Northern Michigan's natural world. To start things off, we are taking a look at a creature that sends shivers down the spines of many of us ... spiders. (I TOTALLY AGREE!!)

As much as some of us may not like it, spiders are all around us in the natural world. (HE DOESN'T HAVE TO RUB IT IN OR SOUND SO PLEASED ABOUT IT!!)

According to an article posted on the Web site of the Michigan State University Department of Entomology there are over 500 species of spiders in Michigan, from tiny spiders that can barely be seen with the human eye(I CAN SEE THEM; I CAN FEEL THEM CRAWLING ON ME RIGHT NOW!!) to those large, wolf spiders that resemble young tarantulas. (YEP, KNOW ALL ABOUT THEM. THEY LEAVE BITE MARKS THE SIZE OF MUFFLER BURNS!)But of all the spiders in Michigan only one is poisonous - the black widow. (There are stories of the poisonous brown recluse spider in Michigan but there has been only one recorded incident).

The black widow is actually a small spider, with the females only reaching about an inch-and-a-half long including their legs -(GEEZ, IS THAT ALL THE BIGGER THEY ARE? SOME COMFORT I TAKE IN KNOWING THAT!) the males are smaller. The females have a red spot on their black “belly” that looks somewhat like an hourglass.(I GUESS TO BE SURE ONE WOULD HAVE TO ACTUALLY PICK HER UP AND LOOK AT HER TUMMY??) The male sometimes has yellow and red bands on its back, but no red dot on its belly.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, these spiders like to build their webs in woodpiles, where they come in contact with humans who are gathering wood. “They may also be found under eaves, in boxes, outdoor toilets, meter boxes and other undisturbed places,” the DNR states in online information about the spider. They are not usually found indoors. (SOME LIGHT AT THE END OF THE SPIDER TUNNEL!! IN THE MEANTIME AVOID THE GREAT OUTDOORS!)

These spiders, as scary as they are, are not aggressive (I DON'T BELIEVE THAT! THEY SEEK US OUT WITH HEAT SENSORS AND THEY CAN ALSO SENSE FEAR!!!) and will not bite unless you mess with them. When they do bite though, medical treatment should be sought immediately. It is rarely fatal, but very painful.And fortunately, you will rarely ever come across one of these spiders in Northern Michigan according to Holly Hogarth, co-owner of Hogarth's Pest Control Company in Elk Rapids.

She said there are many spiders that people mistake for a black widow, but, generally, Northern Michigan is not their favorite type of environment.Hogarth added she has only seen one in the past 10 years - although she still questions whether it was a real black widow or a similar looking spider.

Try not to get too squeemish when getting wood for the fireplace. (WHO PLANS ON GETTING ANY WOOD AFTER READING THIS??!!)

Jeremy McBain can be contacted at 439-9316, or jmcbain@petoskeynews.com

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