Orb spiders

Written by Dr. Dolittle on August 31, 2009 – 12:00 pm -

orb spider

I have a rabid curiosity about pretty much everything in nature. Those who are around me much have gotten used to my stopping and watching nature at work, sometimes in the form of a spider molting, baby birds squawking for lunch or maybe a beautiful moth. Usually I don’t know whether to look up or look down because there’s always something going on worth watching.
We have these argiope bruennichi orb spiders all around our house. We encourage their presence because of the over abundance of grass hoppers every year. Grasshoppers are high on the spider’s lunch list. Right now we can count 5 ladies within 25 feet of our back door. One little lady placed her web on the frame holding the cucumber vines. Good choice. She has eaten regularly and far out grown any of her contemporaries. There is only one problem; she is too close to the hummingbird feeders. One day my husband found a struggling hummer caught in Miss Spider’s web. The poor bird had torn the web but to no avail, she was stuck. My husband freed the bird, cleaned off the webbing and released it, seemingly none the worse for wear. Within hours the web was repaired and momma spider was back in business catching grasshoppers.
To watch these spiders in action is amazing. Their speed at wrapping prey is awesome, even when the prey is much larger than the spider. Our cucumber sitter has grown to over 3” in length and has set out two eggs pouches to insure the next generation in the spring. We’ll be waiting.

UPDATE: My most reliable source for identifying insects has pointed out my insect identification misinformation. The spider is actually an Argiope aurantia. Thanks!

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