Posts Tagged 'spiders'

Spiders

Of all the creepy-crawlies, spiders might be the hardest to photograph. They’re small and the slightest breeze moves their webs. Autofocus pretty much refuses to recognize them.
Manual focus is tricky, too.
This preposterous creature is in fact a Spined Micrathena. The spiny adomen may deter predators; the un-spider-like shape may do something similar. To the naked eye, I first wondered if this was a moth stuck in a web.
I’ve been poking about the common milkweed. It’s a good place to build a web, what with all the creatures that hang around that plant.
Underneath a leaf, a very small one lurks in anticipation. That white dot below her?
A Monarch egg. I’d just seen the butterfly deposit this.
A “Trashline Orbweaver” of the genus Cyclosa. How descriptive. I spotted two of these in a patch of buddleia (pollinator crack).
And there, lurking in the center — do you see the death’s head? — she waits for some unwary prey to ensticken to the web. From the invaluable (and not inexpensive) Tracks and Signs of Insects & Other Invertebrates by Eisenman and Charney,

“The trashline orbweavers (Cyclosa) […] also make vertical stabilimentum, but not a zigzag. They usually decorate it with prey remains, their own shed skins, other debris, and eventually their egg sacs. The spider is well camouflaged resting in the middle of the this ‘trashline,” and it has been demonstrated that decorated webs trap significantly more insects than do undecorated webs.”
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FYI: Margaret B. Gargiullo has passed. She was a botanist/plant ecologist who was a big influence on the community of native plant enthusiasts here. Among other things, she was model of a second career person: she began her professional life as a nurse. Her books, including a field guide to the plants of Costa Rica, were published when she was in her sixties. Her Guide to the Native Plants of the New City Region is a must. Her An Ecological Manual of NYC Plants in Natural Areas can be read on-line.

Sheet Music

A bridge and a stream. What more could Organ Pipe Mud-dauber Wasps (Trypoxylon politum) need than shelter from the rain and a source of their building material?

Well, spiders, of course. These wasps paralyze spiders to feed their young inside these mud-nests. Here’s an interesting observation: Tufted Titmouse and Downy Woodpeckers breaking into these to get the larval wasps. And also the spiders?

I don’t seem to have a photograph of one of these wasps. I’ve sure seen a similar species, the Black and Yellow Mud-daubers (Sceliphron caementarium). They’re particularly photogenic, or just hang around long enough for photographs. They also feed their young spiders.

(Click on image above to make it fill your screen if not your speakers.)
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Well, if you think I’m a worse case scenario-ist, read this on the effects of the return to Miocene-level global temperatures for the centuries to come. We’re remaking the planet like it was 16 million years ago!

Spider Year

It’s the one year anniversary, more or less, of the spider who stayed out in the cold. This big Araneus diadematus orb-weaver had her web(s) outside one of our windows for three months last fall.We only saw her eating once in that time.

All B&B spider adventures can be seen here. The current indoor spider census, which is admittedly not thorough: two.

Spiders

An Argiope genus spider. There was some iNaturalist/bugguide.net debate about the specific identity of this beauty, seen this past weekend on the NY/CT border at the home of friends. There were a lot of spiders, and much else. In fact, the family is cataloging lifeforms around the property (1,200+ observations on iNaturalist; hundreds of species), which is blessed with meadow, pond, and woods in short compass. You know what else is great: the kids are in on the safaris. The six-year-old is already a marvelous natural historian, the twin two-year-olds are coming up fast. A couple of neighborhood children joined us as well on Saturday. Readers probably are aware of the thesis of Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods. “Nature-deficit disorder” and “leave no child inside,” and don’t forget the meadows! Sure, sometimes it bites (see yesterday), but can there be any doubt that a million years of evolution and childhood development has some precedent over a couple of decades of digitally influenced brain formation?Fingernail for scale here. I’ve never seen such enormous spider egg cases.

Spider Update

On Wednesday, Araneus diadematus ate brunch.

Judging from the size and shape of the mummified-in-silk prey, I’d say it was a fly. The temperature was already near 50 that morning and would rise up to 60 in the afternoon. Diptera weather! There were also two gnats stuck to the web, but these were so small they hardly seemed worth the effort to eat after all the juices sucked out of the big fly.Which was reduced over a few hours to a gnarly ball of gristle.

In three months of sporadic observation, we’ve only seen this spider eat once.

The Spider Who Stayed Out in the Cold

This large Araneus diadematus orb-weaver has been living outside a Bronx living room window for nearly three months now. That included the last of summer, when a large window fan blew out towards her, making the web bounce like a trampoline.

The web spans the breadth of the window. When she isn’t in its center, hanging face down, she-spider is tucked up into the top right of the storm window frame, with two legs on the web to keep in touch. She prefers the night, which of course is never that dark here in the city. We only once saw her wrapping some prey… or was it an egg case?

Bits of leaf and plumed seeds, however, were often seen stuck in the usually rather tatty web. The first big, but brief, freeze, didn’t seem to faze her. On the 16th, when the video below was shot, she was devouring the lower right quarter of the web, having taken out the lower left earlier that day. The silk proteins, crazy strong material as you probably know, can be recycled this way.

Then she disappeared. The web too. But then, last Tuesday, there she was again! A Thanksgiving miracle!

The Cross Orb-weaver, so named because some to them have a cross-shape on their abdomen, is a cosmopolitan species. They were evidently imported from across the Atlantic some time past.

Lifespan doesn’t jump out in online material about this species: six to twelve months, evidently, for orb-weavers. The male, by the way, is much smaller, and, when attempting to mate, approaches gingerly so he doesn’t get eaten.

Hmm, perhaps, given the times (well, all times) women should take a lesson from that.

And here’s another moving view on my Instagram.

Update: the spider is still going strong today, Tuesday 11/28/17.

Spider

This 2″-long orb-weaver has been hanging out here since August. The web, quite tattered, is as high and wide as half the window. The animal is remarkably inactive, positioned in the center of web for most of the day, although she will quickly retreat into a nook in the storm-window frame when feeling shy.

The mosquitoes are using another window.

The neighboring building looks plaid because of the screen I’m shooting through.


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