Research undertaken over the last twenty or thirty years has begun to reveal the importance of a rich gut microflora. Put simply, the greater the variety of beneficial bacteria in our digestive systems the better, offering such benefits as enhanced resistance to infection, improved digestion, better defences against allergies, even, some scientists argue, a greater tendency to emotional stability and happiness. The key to all this internal help is said to be to enjoy as varied a natural diet as possible, the range of different unprocessed foods not only providing the correct nutrition for that diverse community of helpful microbes, but adding new ones too. I reckon our wing-mirror spider must therefore be pretty healthy and well-balanced.

Ever since I bought our first VW Transporter, we’ve had a wing-mirror spider. Perhaps it came ready fitted as a non-optional extra. You don’t see her, or perhaps it’s him, that often, as this small arachnid evidently lives in the spacious gap behind the mirror itself, in amongst the electrics that adjust its angle. We do see the web though, woven afresh across the space in front of the reflective glass each morning. The rare sightings of the weaver herself take place only when a fly or beetle happens to stray too close.

The web of the wing mirror spider, photographed in central Sweden.

She isn’t very big. Then again, I’m not surprised. Almost every journey wrecks her last construction project, and she must have to work very hard for her keep. At least her diet must be varied though, representing as it does Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Mecoptera and other orders from insect populations as widely spaced as Croatia, Italy or Spain, and the Outer Hebrides and Arctic Scandinavia. Of course she can munch her way through juicy prey from across the intervening space too. What this means of course is that our wing-mirror spider, or should that be Araneus alaspeculum, consumes bugs on her bugs from all over the place. Her gut might be small, but it must surely contain an impressive microflora variety.

A rare sighting, on this occasion in France.

She can’t be the original WMS of course. We’ve changed Transporters, and our hard-pressed T4 has long since moved on to tender cares of a fresh driver/traveller. I’ve also no idea how long these little spiders live, and therefore how many generations may have travelled around with us over the years, but at least I can be pretty sure that each wing-mirror stowaway is likely to been a very happy and healthy little spider.

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