Lady Spider: the flip side

This morning I ventured out while the air was cool.  The heat and humidity have been so oppressive that it was a shock to open the door and feel a delicious breeze to greet me.

I set to work pulling grass and other weeds to throw over to Polly and the gang.  They come running, honking thanks, to chow down.  Though they carefully remove the spurge.  (I think they don’t like its milky sap.)

I worked my way down the row of tomatoes and there she was!  My Lady Spider from last week’s post… Posing in perfect lighting!  I ran for my camera, and quickly washing the grime from my hands, I dried, then ran back out again.

I caught her.

Is a leftover leg from your previous meal as embarrassing as having spinach in your teeth on a date?

Then as I watched a rather large insect flew by and was caught in her web.  Faster than I could respond, she was there, but I was able to get a few shots of what transpired next!

Quickly she began to twirl the insect with her legs, all the while coating it with a jet of silk shot from her spinnerets.

Now as I watched she stopped for a moment and…

inflicted her victim with a venomous bite.

I continued watching as she cut her prey loose and in a flash ran back to the center of her web…

where she will dine at her leisure.

End note:

Spiders, lacking teeth, must dine on a liquid diet.  Using specialized mouth parts called chelicerae they inject poison into their victims.  The poison paralyzes their meal, but does not kill.

The world of spiders may chill you gentle reader, but without them we would be awash in insect pests of all sorts and descriptions!  I find their world fascinating, yet repulsive.   However, the thought of the alternative finds me giving the ladies my blessings to hunt the gardens here.

BECAUSE YOU ASKED:

The center zigzag pattern of the orb weaver‘s web is called the stabilimentum, and although it has been named, it is up in the air as to the function it serves.  Some say camouflage for the spider, others say to keep birds from flying through it (or unwary gardeners walking into it!) Still others claim it attracts insects into the web.  Whatever its use to the spider it is surely of varied and interesting construction!  Please do follow the link, via a click on the word above, to see some of these variations.  For those of a more scientific mind, please look on the web page Psyche A Journal of Entomology which can be found here:  http://psyche.entclub.org/87/87-013.html

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11 thoughts on “Lady Spider: the flip side

  1. Lindy says:

    I find insects fascinating. However, having found a spider in bed with me and my cat leaping wildly about trying to catch it caused me to leave the premises and let them have at it. The cat did not catch the spider. I had to find it and move it to a location far from my bed.

  2. pixilated2 says:

    So in other words:
    Along came a spider
    to sleep there beside her
    till kitty chased it away…?
    (Yeah, I know… 😉 )

  3. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Good morning! I’m with you on the attractive/repulsive lure of spiders. They work so hard to create these ethereal webs of steel! I’ve always loved to see them loaded down with rain and mist or sparkling in the morning sun. But walking into one in the dark, now that’s another story altogether! (Definitely brings out the Cro-Magnon in me; )
    Do you happen to know why she sews the little “zipper” into the web?

    • pixilated2 says:

      OK, the zipper is called the stabilimentum. And although named it has not been clearly decided what it function serves. I added an update entitled, “Because you asked,” and it is at the end of the post. You will find links and speculation about its use there. Thanks for asking Deb! 🙂

  4. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Okay, so without looking at your addendum, and going just by the name, I’m going to guess that it acts like a shock absorber to minimise the effect of excess vibration (like of the wind perhaps?) in the web.

      • pixilated2 says:

        Hard to say, but she does an interesting thing when you disturb her web or get to close. In the garden when I was to near, she would place herself into the center of the web, legs spread, and do little pushups. This caused the web to move in and out about 2 to 3 inches! I might posit that the zigzags moving in and out like that are perhaps threatening? No conclusions in the scientific arena have been drawn at this point and perhaps we will never know.

  5. missusk76 says:

    How exciting to see this amazing critter in action. I don’t worry about spiders, although I’m not fond of those that get under my clothes. These are great pictures and a very, very interesting read. Thanks.

  6. pixilated2 says:

    Thank you Cindy, as always that means a lot coming from you. (I think my favorite photo the past couple of weeks is my Sunflower with a bee in the previous post.)

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