Tuesday, April 21, 2009

To spin or not to spin

I will never catch up. Ever.

I've got half a dozen bugs in bottles and boxes on my desk, waiting to be blogged about; my extra hard drive is full of folders labelled, "Blog these"; I've got bookmarks, books, lists of links; the garden is growing, the bees are visiting ...

I need a week, just now and then, with 9 30-hour days in it. Please?

Or I can just get a move on. Starting with a batch of spiders.

1. I flipped a rock today. On the bottom, I found this large web:

Spider web. With average-sized dried maple leaf for comparison.

I didn't want to disturb the spider inside, but I did get a bit of her in one photo; there's a fat, round, brown and black spider body visible just under the centre, and the tip of a couple of legs on the left side.

2. On the rhododendrons along the walk, the pretty cross spiders are setting up shop. They're still very tiny; barely bright dots where the sun hits them.

Araneus diadematus.

They all, without exception, arrange their round web in front of the vegetation, and sit motionless in the centre, always with their topside facing out, head down.

3. I found this Philodromus dispar in my hallway, captured him, and photographed him in the viewing tin. He (his pedipalp has a thick, blobby end, which identifies him as male) didn't appreciate the attention, but frantically ran around and around, looking to escape, so I quickly let him go, beside the door to the outside, leaving him to make the choice; outside or inside. He chose inside.

I saw him later, roaming in the bathroom. The next day, he was on a lamp in the living room, and later on the wall over my desk. He doesn't make a web. He's a hunter, looking for a mate, probably.

Black and white running crab spider. Always recognizable, because he's lost one of his pedipalps.

4. And this is my Brownie, lurking in her jar:

Steatoda bipunctata

She makes a messy web, with lines going every which way, some sticky, some to be used as paths or signalling threads. She hangs upside-down, after the manner of a house spider, but chooses different spots according to her whim of the moment. Usually, she is under some sort of shelter; a leaf or a clump of frass. Here, she is under the thick stem of a dried leaf.

When a woodbug (her favourite food) falls into the web, she springs into action. But instead of heading directly to the bug, she climbs to the top of a thread, then angles down to reach the bug from overhead. She bites it, then ties it up with silk, using her back legs to manipulate the threads. Once it's tied up, she drags it off, and hides it under another leaf to eat later on.

5. I found this big spider on a garden wall in Tsawwassen:

Large hunter, Tegenaria sp.

Tegenarias are web spiders, but I often see them laying in wait under a bit of shelter, without a web. This one was under the overhang of the top of the wall. A couple of feet away, I found an egg mass, probably hers. You can see the individual eggs under their blanket of webbing. (Photos of egg sacs of other Tegenarias, here and here.)

Spider egg mass.

6. This is a jumping spider that I have never seen before. The usual jumpers I see are those zebra-striped ones. This was a bit bigger, a lot more curious; he kept dancing around, trying to get a good look at the camera.

See those headlight eyes! No fly can sneak by, unobserved! I have seen a jumping spider leap almost 4 inches to catch a fly in mid-air. No web is needed.

Jumper. Side view. Eyes on the top of his head. Handy.

And for a change of scenery, here's a corner of my garden.

I didn't see any spiders on this plant.



  1. The ground spiders are out and about here ... as we walk along (we did get for a good long walk yesterday) they go dashing off from underfoot.

  2. Great post and blog overall. I'm an admin for the Flickr group, Encyclopedia of Life Images that lets citizens contribute their images and comments to the Encyclopedia of Life via Flickr. Check us out, we'd love to have your insect and arachnid content up there!

  3. Thanks, Nick. I've joined the group, and I'll look over my photos and add some to the pool.

  4. Thx for sharing your spider observations. The araneus spider when small and young does sit in the centre of the web. However, as they get larger, they then hide in a retreat connected to the centre of the web via a zipline of sorts. I guess as they get bigger, it's a bigger risk to hang out in the centre of the web where they attract the attention of predatory wasps.

    The jumping spider is my favorite for photographing. Lots of character in those acrobatic hunters.

  5. Tim,
    Interesting! I'll look for big araneus now, to see where they are hiding.

  6. Hi Wanderin' Weeta,

    Thanks for being so kind to spiders. I love them and a lot of people just stomp on them without giving it another thought. Great pics, nice blog.

    Thanks for liking to me, too.

    Hope to run into you at the beach someday!



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