(p) Emily and her black widows

My lovely friend Emily McLeod has chosen one of the most reviled and mysterious insects as the subject of her entomology doctoral thesis: black widow spiders. They're actually kind of cute. And apparently, they only get nasty if you really mistreat them, so I felt semi-safe walking all over their habitat with her in the wilds of Carmel, California. At Hastings Nature Reserve, there are a number of wildlife studies going on, including studies on finches and bluebirds (that's one beside the boxed spiders). Emily had marked the black widow nests in the wild with pretty pink flags so she could find them again. This also meant less of a chance of stepping on them. The photo that looks a bit abstract at first (I didn't want to get too close!) is a black widow spider wrapping herself protectively around her egg, where there are, 500 baby black widow spiders waiting to emerge. Party on, spiders.