The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Orb Weaver Spiders

Yesterday I was making the bed and opening the blinds like I normally do every morning.  When I opened the blinds at one window, I saw a small orb weaver spider outside.  It was making its bed for the day under a curled leaf of a vine that I had been intending to pull out of the bush at the end of the house. 


I got the camera and tripod to take a few photos as best that I could.  It was not an ideal situation.  The spider – under the leaf was in a shady, darkish spot.  In the background was the sky and sun – very bright.  The flash would not work since I was working through the window.  I grabbed the flashlight that I keep by the side of the bed.  While I took the shot – I shined the light up under the leaf to allow me to photograph more than the silhouette of a spider.  I took my normal number – too many – of shots.  By this time, the spider was getting pretty tired of having a flashlight pointed in its direction.  It began to move around and even at one point come out the end of the leaf curl looking around – or maybe just giving me "the

eye(s)."  I had plenty of photos anyway – so I put the flashlight away and stopped taking photos.


Orb weaver spiders are interesting.  I have another one near the front porch that is growing everyday.  When I first spotted it – it was so very tiny.  Now it is easy to see without having to search the web.  This one is green with a white/silvery marked abdomen.  It is a Venusta Orchard Spider.  I have no clue what kind the leaf dweller is.  The classification of orb weaver spiders is the third largest group of spiders – over 2800 species.  I got lucky identifying the little one by the front porch – there is a photo of one exactly like it in my Aud ubon field guide. 


Orb weavers build a circular web – usually very precise and pretty.  Orb – circle – thus the name.  Some of them I see out all day and night – I wonder when do they sleep?  Or are they like the cat and nap intermittently throughout the day?  Others, like the little one taking a break under the leaf by my bedroom window, come out at night.  They build a beautiful web to use all night catching prey.  In the morning, they will take it down, eating it as they go.  Then they go off – usually under a leaf to stay out of the sun all day.  Then at night – t hey come out to build the web again. 


If you have lights that stay on at night – like our bedroom light – the spider will come build near that window.  The light attracts moths and other insects that the spiders catch in the web to eat.  Many times in the summer we leave the flood lights on at the entrance to the garage for my son – he comes home late at night.  We notice orb weavers building very close to that light.  If we get outside early enough in the morning to take the dog out or get the paper, we will see the spider taking down the web.  I always think that one sleeps behind the downspout during the day.  It is cheap entertainment to go out in the evening to watch the spider come out to build the web.


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