Often when I go hiking locally I don’t have a specific subject in mind to photograph – it adds to the enjoyment of the moment to discover something photo worthy. More often than not, this something turns out to be an animal – bird, squirrel, rabbit, chipmunk, or colorful flowers. On occasion I take an exercise in facing my fears taking pictures of bees, although these tend to be of the bumblebee variety who rarely if ever, sting (more on the bumblebee in another post).
One very early morning something glinting in the sunlight caught my eye, and upon a closer look, I discovered a first specimen of what was to become a new interest:
A be-dewed spiderweb. How fortunate was I on to come upon such a beautiful one – to me it looks like a fantastical crystal necklace And so, I was hooked and I made it a point to go out early before the dew had dried to capture other sparkling webs.
At first I focused more on the dew than the webs themselves, like a magpie who who is attracted to shiny or glittery things and steals them to decorate its nest.
I realized after a time that while some of the webs looked just like gobs or masses of threads, many were constructed on intricate spirals or other varying shapes. I had to investigate this further, so before I show you more web photos and introduce you to their architects, let me share what I discovered.
There are many types of spiderweb construction. Here are a few schematics showing some differences in construction:
A: Sheet webs are constructed horizontally and are flat webs of silk between blades of grass or leaves or branches
B and E: Funnel and Tubular webs are large, flat horizontal webs with openings at both ends The spiders hides out of sight until it feels the vibration of trapped prey.
C: Tangled webs are constructed with a lack of symmetry with the threads of silk jumbled this way and that. You may have seen these in the corners of a room either in the floor or ceiling and you may be familiar with their other name – cobwebs
D: Spiral Orb webs are the most common and their architecture is beautifully detailed in outwardly rotating spirals
I am not quite sure of the shape of the dewdrop webs as my photos were zoomed in to catch the particular part covered with the dew. There have been webs I have found where the shape is unmistakeable. Let me add here that I don’t have an infinity to recognize spiders other than the large unmistakable tarantula which incidentally do not spin webs. Instead their silk is used to either line their shelters to prevent others insects from invading – although I don’t see how any insect would want to venture inside. Some spiders I have identified through research and I will include their names below
The top photo is perfect example of a spiral orb web including its tiny builder in the center –
The Galapagos orb weaving spider’s web was inescapable – in more ways than one. This web was large enough to totally encompass me though I made sure not to get too close:
This next series of photos is from my neighborhood, and it was also quite big, covering almost the entirely of a bush. The orb weaver is upside down from this view – you will see him in the other shots as well:
I am not sure what that line of spherical lumps is – unless they are wrapped up meals for the orb weaver, seen underneath.
There was also a large sheet web in another area that looked like a city:
As I was taking photos the architect dropped by – and I was very glad I was far away using my zoom lens:
Don’t know what kind of spider this is – suggestions are welcome!
I knew exactly which spider built this next web, as it is quite distinctive:
This is a nursery web spider, which only creates the above as a nest or nursery for its egg sac. 18th The female carries the` egg sac around until the eggs are ready to hatch, then constructs a web and places the egg sac inside. She stands guard nearby until the spiderlings have all grown and dispersed. While not poisonous, the bite of this spider is quite painful and she will attack if she feels her babies are threatened. I used my zoom lens and stayed respectfully far away.
The last spider does not spin webs and I haven’t yet seen one in the wild, but am including it – because it is amazing – and not only because of the male’s gaudy looks.
The peacock spider is a tiny little guy, less than .3 of an inch, but packs a lot of swagger. These spiders are very venomous but even though they can prey upon creatures 3 or 4 times their size, stalking them like a miniature lion, their jaws are so small they couldn’t puncture through a human’s skin. Whew!
The male peacock spider lives on the edge. Each male has its own customized dance moves, but there’s a lethal catch. If a female doesn’t like the male’s choreography, she doesn’t just reject him – she EATS him! So this little guy is not only dancing for sex but also literally dancing for his life.
This spider comes in a variety of bright. colorful patterns on its lower abdomen, which it raises in defense as well as in dance mode:
Now – watch the mating dance. While watching, I want you to think about what the French call “La petite mort.” This male peacock spider has his, and sadly also the “la amort majeure.”