This morning I ventured out while the air was cool. The heat and humidity have been so oppressive that it was a shock to open the door and feel a delicious breeze to greet me.
I set to work pulling grass and other weeds to throw over to Polly and the gang. They come running, honking thanks, to chow down. Though they carefully remove the spurge. (I think they don’t like its milky sap.)
I worked my way down the row of tomatoes and there she was! My Lady Spider from last week’s post… Posing in perfect lighting! I ran for my camera, and quickly washing the grime from my hands, I dried, then ran back out again.
I caught her.
Is a leftover leg from your previous meal as embarrassing as having spinach in your teeth on a date?
Then as I watched a rather large insect flew by and was caught in her web. Faster than I could respond, she was there, but I was able to get a few shots of what transpired next!
Quickly she began to twirl the insect with her legs, all the while coating it with a jet of silk shot from her spinnerets.
Now as I watched she stopped for a moment and…
inflicted her victim with a venomous bite.
I continued watching as she cut her prey loose and in a flash ran back to the center of her web…
where she will dine at her leisure.
Spiders, lacking teeth, must dine on a liquid diet. Using specialized mouth parts called chelicerae they inject poison into their victims. The poison paralyzes their meal, but does not kill.
The world of spiders may chill you gentle reader, but without them we would be awash in insect pests of all sorts and descriptions! I find their world fascinating, yet repulsive. However, the thought of the alternative finds me giving the ladies my blessings to hunt the gardens here.
BECAUSE YOU ASKED:
The center zigzag pattern of the orb weaver‘s web is called the stabilimentum, and although it has been named, it is up in the air as to the function it serves. Some say camouflage for the spider, others say to keep birds from flying through it (or unwary gardeners walking into it!) Still others claim it attracts insects into the web. Whatever its use to the spider it is surely of varied and interesting construction! Please do follow the link, via a click on the word above, to see some of these variations. For those of a more scientific mind, please look on the web page Psyche A Journal of Entomology which can be found here: http://psyche.entclub.org/87/87-013.html