|She barely bothered to react when I put the camera down a few inches from her eyes. Trusting soul!|
I took more photos. She turned her back on me. I don't think she liked the flash.
|"Knees up, Mother Orange!"|
I think she's a Marbled Orbweaver, Araneus marmoreus, an extremely variable species, but the eye placement is right, and the pattern of legs and body fits. And these spiders hate the light.
An interesting exchange on BugGuide:
"While focusing I noted that the round protruberances on her back were pulsating. Are these respiratory?..."
"Yes! ... I've noticed the pulsating as well. I believe it is a defense mechanism. ... It could be that they are trying to produce silk so that they can 'web' away from me.
But as I originally said, I think it's just a defense mechanism. Perhaps to make them look larger to predators."
… Nikole Loomis (Bush Cricket and Buckeye Lover)
|In an Ikea glass, waiting to be moved.|
I put her outside, in the rain. And it turned out that was a lucky move. That white powder on her pedipalps in the first photo? I realized that it was the remains of some diatomaceous earth I'd spread around in the hot days of last summer, when we had been invaded by fleas. I had vacuumed it since, of course, but there's a bit still hanging around in the back of my closet. And it's a spider killer, too.
Although it feels much like talcum powder to humans, diatomaceous earth is actually jagged, and when spiders walk across the powder, it begins to jab and cut into their hard exoskeleton. According to the Oregon State University, the wounds created by the jagged diatomaceous earth cause the spiders to desiccate, or lose all of the liquids and oils from their bodies. This desiccation eventually leads to death. (From sfgate)
It's a slow killer. It takes a spider two days or more to dry out and die. However, if it rains, or if the ambient humidity is high (like anywhere outside here, these days) the diatomaceous earth slides off, and the spider lives.
And fortunately, "Mother Orange" had collected it on her pedipalps and some of her feet; most of her skin was clean. I think she'll live.