I was working on a jigsaw puzzle at the workbench out in the barn
and this Black Widow plopped down on my puzzle-board!
Mud daubers are a fact of life around here, carrying their carefully crafted balls of mud from - well, wherever, to some nice dark corner somewhere
where they build their depositories in any convenient little nook and crack.
Today one landed on the workbench beside me, then for some inexplicable reason, dropped her ball of mud before climbing down through the bench-dog hole.
but not to worry. It wasn't long before she was back with another, apparently more suitable, ball of mud.
Once each cell is completed, before depositing an egg and sealing it off, she will switch from mud to spiders as she stocks the cell with from one to several spiders to feed the resulting larvae.
Sometimes, especially with these fat Black Widows, the daubers lose their grip before reaching the cell. During the spring and summer I find them laying all over in the barn.
The spiders aren't actually dead at this point, just irreversibly paralyzed, which keeps them fresh while the egg transforms into a larvae which can then eat them.
Seems a little gruesome, but before you grimace and shudder about the barbaric practices of the insect world, they are just doing what evolution dictates they do. Unlike us humans that, with alarming regularity, do things like spout doctrines of hate and oppression from high-office, line up men, women and children on the edge of a pit before shooting them dead because they are Bosnian and not Serb, or vice versa, or, coming back to home again, (USA) passing out blankets deliberately infected with smallpox to Native Americans because we've decided it's costing us too much to feed them in the concentration camps we've confined them to as we rape their native lands for profit.