Some pointed questions
It was when I got close to the prickly pear pad with a hole in it that I noticed close at hand the strange sight that you see here. It may make you ask now, as I did then, how this tiny dry leaf come to be impaled above these prickly pear glochids. I’d say the leaf was at most two-thirds of an inch long, and when I touched it I found that it was on there pretty tightly. I hardly even had to do that, though, because the differing angles of the spines that transfixed the leaf not only guaranteed that the leaf was now firmly attached, but also suggested it had been stuck there at a time when the spines were shorter and their tips closer together. I have to wonder, even at that earlier time, what could have held the tiny leaf firmly enough in place for the growing spines to be able to pierce it; or, alternatively, what could have pressed the leaf onto the developing spines with enough force to make one or several initial piercings. Could a spider have done the work in order to make a little hideout for itself, or might the visible silk only mean that a spider happened along later and took advantage of an already existing enclosure? Questions, questions.
Like the last photograph, this one came from a bluff above Loop 360 near the aptly named Bluffstone Dr. in northwest Austin on January 23.
© 2013 Steven Schwartzman