Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The Orb Spider
My husband decided to mow a path along the pond this evening, both so we can walk around it more easily and to see if the animals will eat the exposed pasture grass, since they seem to avoid the taller stands of grass.
It was the first time we'd walked along there in a while, and we discovered large numbers of beautiful orb spiders bobbing gently in the breeze in their ornate webs.
I particularly like this picture, with the female orb spider in the middle, a passion fruit growing on the passionflower vine, and the bright orange caterpillar of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly, which feeds exclusively on the passionflower vine.
We've been hoping for some time to see those caterpillars. Here's another shot of the female spider, with the characteristic zig-zag portion of the web. They're supposed to be common spiders, but I'd never seen one before we moved out here, and I've never seen anything like this web. Isn't it amazing?
According to my Internet research, the black-and-yellow argiope, which is this version of the orb spider, eats its web at the end of each day and re-spins it at night. In climates like ours, the female can live up to a couple of years, but the male probably dies after mating. To attract a female, the male plucks gently at the edge of her web. They eat flies, mosquitos, and ants and are considered beneficial to humans.
We would have liked to get closer pictures, but to get these we had to hang precariously out over the pond, and much as I like any spider that eats flies, I don't particularly want to meet them up close and personal....