Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Friday, November 19, 2010

Orb Weaver - Neoscona crucifera

The garden was alive with bees visiting the last of the Aster praealtus, when I turned to watch a bumble fly to another flower stalk.



There she was~dangling by a thin piece of thread, doing what orb weaving spiders do: slowly wrapping her captured prey.


An amazing feat of spider acrobatic skill~holding onto what was left of her web to spin a bee mimic into submission.

She spun while it dangled, she worked while life went on around her. Bumbles flew back and forth to visit the remaining flowers, the wind blew in the trees and the sky provided a marvelous blue background to her amazing dance.




I've never been afraid of spiders and appreciate the important role that orb weavers play in our gardens. They keep insects in check and provide food for birds. I've been lucky enough to see baby spiders hatch and catch the wind with their gossamer threads. I've watched for them all summer and usually discover a few in the late Summer warmth...waiting patiently for unsuspecting critters to get caught in their web.

Each morning they rebuild their tattered webs ~almost always in the same place. I am hoping my orb weaver has mated. But, right now she is catching flies, bee mimics and even bees. She lives to reproduce. She uses the last of her energy to make her egg sac, lay the eggs and hide it someplace safe. Then she will die.

click to enlarge~If you dare!
Until then Neoscona crucifera is a ferocious hunter.

Gail

26 comments:

  1. You found a treasure in your yard and did some great shots. I shot a series on a larger Arigope I almost walked into had a butterfly not flown into its web first, the plants were so dense and tall.It was busy with another bug so the butterfly I had been shooting in some asters nearby got loose.I found a flower blooming Wednesday and was shocked ,we have had a number of heavy frosts and all is past until spring here in Iowa.

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  2. What a beauty! You reminded to check on my Argiope's egg sac: it's still intact under the eave of the house. I expect it will be spring before I see the youngsters.

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  3. Spiders are fascinating creatures...while I'm not paticularly afraid of them...I do respect them. I posted about the Phlox subulata today, hope it answers your questions.

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  4. What luck to get these wonderful photos of a spider at work. All except the house spiders are at rest here. Love seeing that sunshine too. Have a great weekend.

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  5. Oh Gail!! I did click! I do agree with you about the importance of spiders, but I am not so brave as you. I get nervous around spiders and seeing this is hard. Fantastic photos! Your last one seems to reveal a lovely face on the underside of the Orb. Your prose is equal to the spiders dance. Lovely post! ;>)

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  6. Nice photos, it's fun to follow along when we've already been blanketed with snow and the activity level has slowed.

    Heather

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  7. Great shots, what a cool spider. I'm happy to make friends with anything that eats hornets.

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  8. Very cool photos Gail! We've had an orb weaver outside the kitchen window for a while now, and I'm always amazed at the energy it must take to keep building that web day after day. Especially as they don't seem to catch prey all that often!

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  9. It is survival of the fittest with the insect world. It is fascinating to watch. Glad I am not a bee.

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  10. We have lots of spiders in our yard and they are most interesting to watch. Have lots and lots of Daddy Longlegs, they try to come in the house all the time. The Garden spiders have some really big webs!

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  11. Gail,


    We call this one a Barn Spider, very common all over the garden and hanging from the corners of the house. My favorite is the Marbled Orb Weaver surely you have them there also.

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  12. Great shots! I don't mind spiders, either, as long as they are in my garden. However, I don't like finding big hairy spiders in my kitchen or bathroom!

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  13. Thanks so much! I rarely find (or take) the time to really watch, this post is so inspiring! Spiders are amazing...

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  14. I don't really like spiders but I couldn't help but read this all the way through. Great capture for both you and the Neoscona crucifera.

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  15. Gail I'm so impressed at the way you managed to capture the spider's antics so beautifully!

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  16. Great photos, Gail! I think the orb spiders are so fascinating, though I have been known to release a bee or butterfly caught in their web. Some of my family have spider phobia, but I've never minded them and think of them as friends, eating insects I'd rather not have. Of course, I do prefer they do their hunting outside rather than in my house:)

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  17. I like the spiders. They are so industrious and often colorful. This one has a very intimidating face. Perhaps she did not like having her picture taken.

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  18. Gail girl this would have been a GREAT Halloween post ! hehehe
    I am in the throws of a renamed blog and address .. just in case you wanted to drop by .. it is
    http://canadiangardenjoy.blogspot.com/ ... CanadianGardenJoy .. sorry I am in a rush trying to pick up my blog roll people again .. I am tearing my hair out over the oops factor !! eeekkk
    Joy

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  19. I had to click on the final photo but her face quite scared me. I love spiders, as long as I don't look too closely!

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  20. Gail I love that last picture, and the challenge that went with it! lol Is that a Yellow Jacket that she caught? We get lots of these red orb weavers too along with Writing Spiders every fall. They love to set up shop under the eaves of the hay and horse shelters.

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  21. Terrific spotting Gail. You did a great job capturing the "kill" too. There's so much to see in the garden if we look closely enough, isn't there? I haven't seen a bumble for over a month now but the yellow jackets still come out if the daytime temperatures are in the mid 40's or higher.

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  22. Gail, these are beautiful images of the orb spider. I have never been afraid of them. They are an important part of the food chain....everything has a purpose.

    Thank you for sharing, they are truly captivating photographs.

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  23. Amazing photos, Gail! What a fascinating glimpse you've given us of the little Orb Weaver and her prey. The garden is alive with activity, and occasionally we are lucky enough to see the action up close :)
    Thanks for sharing!

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  24. As someone who developed a spider neurosis at a very early age, thanks for the morning wakeup! I can appreciate what spiders do in the garden as long as they stay there. When I see spiders in the house I find the nearest shoe.

    I blame my bad feelings on the fact that I've pulled spiders from my hair three times (once as a young child). Who does that happen to?? It's not like I live in a rainforest or something.

    Christine in Alaska, spiderless

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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