Snug as a Spider in a Blossom

Two expressions bookmarked my childhood days. When it was time to rise after sleep, I often heard my father saying, “Good morning, Sunshine.” At night, as I was tucked into bed, my mother would say, “There. Now you’re snug as a bug in a rug.”

When I find a spider that’s tucked itself (or its eggs) into a flower or leaf, I always remember those snug bugs, and smile. In the photo above, strands of silk used by a spider to create a secure spot are just visible on either side of a Downy Lobelia flower (Lobelia puberula).

In mid-October, these relatives of the Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) were blooming prolifically in east Texas. The genus name honors Matthias de L’Obel, a Flemish herbalist; the specific epithet, puberula, comes from a word meaning ‘downy,’ and refers to the hairs on the plant.

Downy Lobelia’s preference for a combination of sun and moisture makes its autumn appearance in low-lying areas of the Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary and the Big Thicket’s Solo Tract somewhat predictable. The creative spider making use of one of the plant’s flowers was, of course, lagniappe.


Comments always are welcome.

50 thoughts on “Snug as a Spider in a Blossom

    1. Thanks, Jet. This downy lobelia isn’t as flashy as the cardinal flower, but it’s attractive in its own way, and it certainly attracted that spider. It’s the season for creatures of every sort to be finding their way to shelter, or filling their pantries, or making way for the next generation. It’s part of the excitement of the season.

  1. Beautiful pics and useful information. I had no idea lobelia was named after Matthias de L’Obel, just that it was a favorite of my mother in law. Thanks as always, Linda.

    1. If you haven’t yet seen it, take a look at this informative link about L’Obel that Steve provided in the next comment. He was as interesting as this flower is beautiful. And thanks, as always, for stopping by! I loved reading about your personal connection to this flower.

    1. It’s getting easier to spot where spiders have been working, just as it’s becoming easier to spot spittlebugs and lurking crab spiders. Familiarity breeds recognition, it seems.

      The information in that entry about de l’Obel is fascinating. La belle, of course, reminded me of La Salle’s ship, and the fascinating story of its excavation in Matagorda Bay. A farmer I knew who lived along Garcitas Creek turned up a Spanish anchor in one of his fields. Which ship it came from was impossible to know, but it certainly made for some interesting speculation.

  2. Beautiful! We often heard ‘snug as a bug in a rug’ too. I most remember the sad-to-hear instruction ‘up the dancers!’ meaning go upstairs to bed.

      1. I suppose one human analogy might be exchanging cool cotton sheets for flannel: those certainly increase the snugginess, and today’s flannels are quite lovely.

    1. What a fun expression. I’ve never heard ‘up the dancers,’ and I like it. I suspect you rarely danced up the stairs, though! When I consulted my favorite English phrases site, I found that ‘dancers’ was a reference to the stairs themselves, rather than to people, and that the phrase apparently never was reversed, as in ‘down the dancers.’

    1. When I did a general search for lobelia, I was amazed by the number of cultivars that are available. All of them are pretty, and some of them surely would please a ‘true-blue’ flower lover. Have you posted photos of yours? I might have seen them, and not realized it. What color are they?

      1. I’ve never posted photos because I don’t post much garden — it’s not really a good blog garden! But I use them in big pots, usually with other flowers. They’re sort of a bright blue — very similar to your photo but very small, close and kind of fluffy!

    1. I’d never heard of Matthias (or Mathias) de L’Obel, so that bit of information interested me, as well. I think I remember you finding them this year, too — perhaps at Sam Houston.

  3. What a pretty shade for this flower! Regarding your dad’s greeting at daybreak, I had an editor who always greeted me with “Morning, Glory!” Every time I see one growing along the fence line, I remember him and smile.

    1. My dad used that ‘Morning, Glory’ greeting occasionally himself; just like you, I smile when I remember it. It’s amazing how certain phrases can bring back such detailed memories, and how much pleasure they bring. Lavender seems a bit of an odd color for fall, but at least down here, there are lavender, blue, and purple shades everywhere. The complement the sunflowers and goldenrods nicely.

    1. It’s easy to see why so many cultures have a mythical web-weaver in their stories. The spiders’ ability to use their silk in ways that are beautiful and useful is amazing. I was especially impressed by the way the spider used the silk longitudinally instead of just wrapping it around and around the flower. I’d say some ‘engineering’ was involved.

    1. Wouldn’t it be fun if the spiders and such would hang little signs that say “Occupied,” or “Do Not Disturb”? It would make it ever so much easier to find them!

      1. Flies and other insects would need to learn to read so that they could avoid the spiders, hehe! The lobelias are such delicate, pretty little flowers.

    1. They’re such pretty flowers, and the colors are delicious. Apparently you can find cultivars that are shorter or taller, and more or less deeply colored. Do you still have space for them? Apparently they do well in pots, and they obviously bloom well in fall. They might be fun to try.

  4. You will know how prosaic I am when I tell you that when I find a spider all I think of is that I found a spider.

    1. That’s not prosaic. That’s natural, and it’s usually my first thought as well. The other thoughts come later, usually when I’m chasing the critter around its stem, or trying to decide if I’m really seeing what I think I’m seeing!

  5. Ah, a Halloween post perhaps? We also used to say ‘Snug as a bug in a rug’ for tucking in and ‘Up the wooden stairs’ for the ‘Go to bed’ command! I particularly like the last photo, which shows off the downy lobelia’s gorgeous colour perfectly.

    1. If I can get my research done, there will be a Halloween post for Lagniappe — just not this one!

      I do think the lobelia’s color is appealing, although I’ve found a few that were very dark: almost a purple. Interestingly, I found those in the same spot as these, but a couple of years ago. I suppose all of the usual factors are at play, as well as genetics. I’m glad for your comment about this one’s color, for sure. It’s hard with these blue/lavender/purple ones to get it just right, especially with all the differences in cameras, monitors, and so on.

  6. Just catching up on your last three Lagniappe posts. A great way to chill out in the middle of a hectic Friday work day!

    1. It is Friday, isn’t it? We’ve had two days of howling winds — stronger than with our last two tropical storms. They came with blue skies and lowering humidity, though. If it weren’t for the pollen, things would be perfect. Hope you got yourself well chilled — enjoy the weekend!

  7. I always enjoy these little reminiscences of your childhood. I can barely remember more than a few experiences from back then but you have carried all these marvelous formative phrases, treats, and times with your family. “Snug as a bug in a rug” could describe Bentley as he curls up under the covers next to me at night.

    Three lovely shots of the Lobelia and a nice job catching the silk.

    1. You’ll have to tell Bentley you have a perfect expression now for describing how he likes to tuck himself in. Sometimes, of course, I’d untuck myself once the parent had gone downstairs. I had a habit of going into my closet with a flashlight and a book until I heard someone coming.

      I think all of the lobelias are so pretty. I found the cardinal flower I photographed still blooming today, but it was in serious decline. I’m glad I found it – and this one — when they still were in good shape.

  8. Superb illustration of the definition of “lagniappe”!

    As you point out, studying a plant for a moment often reveals “other stuff”. Many times, the extras aren’t even detected until one studies the photograph later.

    We have learned to be on the lookout for “something different”. Such as spider silk on a flower blossom (!), or a blossom bound up by that silk, or several plant branches collected together and “dead looking” on a healthy bush.

    Your photographs are excellent and remind us to investigate beyond the immediate beauty we behold.

    Surprises await our discovery.

    1. You’re right about those after-the-fact discoveries. Sometimes it’s just the presence of a spider or such, but sometimes the explanation for apparently inexplicable behavior emerges with a little study of the photos. Those are a different kind of puzzle, but solving them is exceedingly pleasurable.

      To be honest, ‘lagniappe’ and ‘serendipity’ cover a whole lot of territory when it comes to surprises and discoveries in nature!

    1. That macro lens was one of the best investments of my life. It certainly does open up whole new worlds — most of which have perfectly charming details attached, like that fuzziness!

    1. And it didn’t even need to hire a decorator! I do love finding these little insects making themselves at home in the world. I suspect they’re as happy to be cozy and warm as we are.

    1. Isn’t it, though? I like to imagine a more than usually classy spider chose this for its home. Who wants to use a plain old leaf, when a blossom’s available?

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