Thursday, February 4, 2010

Buggin' Out on Thursdays :: Western Spotted Orbweaver Spider joins the Virtual Bug Collection

Don't be scurred. I'm beneficial!

On a breezy Fall day I grit my teeth and try not to freak out while I bend, stretch, and strain to take photographs of the black spotted yellow spider bouncing on it's web in the gusts of wind.

Large spiders are pretty high on my freak-out factor but I suppose my love of life, nature and - well, bugs - transcend any major squeamishness as long as I'm just photographing. Finding a spider crawling on me is an entirely different matter and ends up in the dance otherwise known as "arachnid-induced flailing with various shouts and high pitched yelps of surprise" until it is flung off (hopefully unharmed)! That particular dance is exactly what I would have done if this spider jumped off it's web onto my camera. Luckily, these types of spiders are shy and their bite may be painful but it's non-toxic to humans. I understand that they will bite you if harassed (and in that case I don't blame them one bit)!

I found this spider making her web low to the ground in the afternoon by my honeysuckle vine. I went out to check on her a few days later and she was hiding up in the leaves of the honeysuckle. She was still attentive and attached to a new web with a little line of silk, waiting for prey. I guess she thought more bugs would get caught in her net if she hid on the side of the web rather than right smack in the middle.

With the help of the ID Request feature on I found out my spider is a Western Spotted Orb-weaver, Neoscona oaxacensis, and is indeed female. Apparently males don't have such bulbous bootys. A famous female weaver of the orb is Charlotte from the book Charlotte's Web by American author E. B. White. My mom used to read this to me and it is a beloved book from my childhood. Doing a little research I found out that Charlotte is a barn orb-weaver spider known as Araneus cavaticus.

Gorgeous big round spiderwebs spun in what is commonly thought of as the classic spiderweb shape are made by orb-weavers. A fitting name! If only I had taken a picture of the pretty round spiderweb in the morning, dripping with dew.

Interestingly, some orb-weavers do not build webs at all but instead dangle a sticky globule on a strand of silk from their front legs. The glob is covered in a scent to attract male moths which come looking for a female and instead find themselves bitten and subsequently eaten. Yikes!

What kind of bugs have you seen lately?


  1. Those are great pictures of very cool spiders. Are these like those big spiders we saw on the bushes at Bracken Village?

  2. I don't remember the ones we saw in Bracken Village, did we take any pictures of them?