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Somewhere as a tiny 6-legged larva along Little Crum Creek, this female American dog tick hitched a ride on something small like a mouse or a squirrel, gorged on its blood, dropped off, and molted to a larger size.

The resulting 8-legged nymph then latched on to another mammal, maybe a raccoon or rabbit, and repeated the routine.

Finally I happened by to complete the adult tick’s 3-host cycle, potentially providing the nutrition she’d need to mate and lay more than 4,000 eggs.

Problem is, along the way, ticks can pick up diseases and pass them on to their hosts.

Dog ticks, in particular, could deliver Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Good thing for me then to spot her out of the corner of an eye crawling up a sleeve before feeding.

Not so good for her, however, imposing so boldly on a watchful host, one possessing both a natural aversion to parasitic vectors of pathogens and, when pressed, an inhospitable command of fire.

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This, I believe, is Hentz’s orbweaver, neoscona crucifera.

Every evening we try to avoid walking through the artisan hunter’s impressive new wheel-like web.

It spans the doorway from awning to fence and, by morning, is tattered by nocturnal hunting success.

Then, in light of day, the spider generally tucks away in the shelter of a corner window edge.

Here it ventures forth to snag and wrap a stink bug snack for later.

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