RIP Pete – I hardly knew you…

2016 Pete AnniversaryLast week I received a calendar alert on my iPhone reminding me of the one year anniversary of Pete’s death.

I did not know Pete personally.  In fact, we were complete strangers until May of 2015, when he suddenly appeared in my office.  Unfortunately he died only minutes after we first met.  I never knew his name, if he even had one, so I named him Pete.

This is a photo of Pete.

Pete the Spider

Pete is (or was) an Arachnid, a joint-legged invertebrate.  Or more specifically, a common tiny household spider in South Carolina.

When I first saw Pete last year, he was slowly lowering himself from the 9 foot ceiling in a corner of my office.  His spider silk was so thin that I couldn’t see it from across the room.  And suddenly, he stopped.

 

Minutes later, it was obvious that Pete had died, his body in a spiders version of the fetal position.  While watching this extraordinary event, I begin to wonder how long Pete’s silk would hold him suspended in his final resting place.

Spider silk is a protein fibre that is extremely strong.  It has a tensile strength comparable to steel but not nearly as dense.  It’s ductile, and is some cases can stretch up to five times its length without breaking.  And apparently, temperature fluctuations have no significant effect.

After further thought, I elected to honor Pete by leaving him be, at least temporarily.  I wanted to give Pete the opportunity to show the world, or least me, how long his craftsmanship would last under somewhat normal conditions.  Although Pete was simply using his silk for ballooning, it is still a remarkable feat for a small creature to create such a strong fiber.

As you now know, it’s been one year since his death.  Pete is still resting quietly at the end of his silk, a testimony to his work.

There are many fascinating creatures, large and small, in our world.  We should each set aside some time in our lives to learn just a little more about them.  They all have a story to tell.

 

So, why did I name him Pete?  If you are a Nerd, the answer should be obvious…