Spiders are fascinating creatures. On one hand, they can scare the dickens out of us; on the other hand, they create wondrous webs to behold. and, they do a lot to reduce the population of pesky flies and mosquitoes. Here is Shiela Fuller with an informative post on orb weavers:
The orb weavers are spiders that can be found throughout the world and as close as your own backyard. If you look outside your window at night, in late summer or early autumn, perhaps you will see their masterful web creation attached to your front porch or eave. This is because many orb weavers tend to build webs attached to human structures. Their webs are large and comprised of concentric circles that radiate outward with an occasional “zig zag” portion, called stabilimenta. Studies have shown that webs containing the stabilimenta catch 34% fewer insects but these visible decorations are damaged less frequently, keeping the webs intact longer.
If you’re familiar with the orb web-building spiders, did you ever notice that the web is sometimes gone during the day? That is because many orb weavers build a new web every day. Orb weavers are nocturnal hunters and as evening approaches they will come out from their hiding location, eat the old web, rest, and then spin a new web in the same location.
They may bite if they are forced to defend themselves but in general are a gentle spider. The bite is not poisonous and no more painful than a bee sting for most folks.
Orb weavers are often identified by their brightly colored, rounded abdomens, and some have angled bumps or spines. When visible in the web, the spider is usually resting head down and waiting for prey.
This argiope photo is a good example of a common orb weaver found in the backyard garden. It’s brightly colored, its head is facing downward, and the stabilitmenta is clear to see in the web.
If you’re lucky enough to have an orb weaving spider building a web near or on your front porch, or in your garden, enjoy and marvel in the creation. The orb weaver rarely lives for more than one season and while they’re here, they’ll aid in reducing pesky insect populations like mosquitoes.
Shiela Fuller has been a Cornell University Project Feeder Watch participant for many years and an avid birder since 1988. Currently, she enjoys writing picture books, yoga, chicken raising, wildlife photography, and is the legacy keeper for her family.
As part of National Picture Book Month, here are two PB’s about some extraordinary Orb Weavers:
- The classic CHARLOTTE’S WEB by E B White tells the story of an amazing pig as seen through the eyes – and web designs – of Charlotte, a spider who weaves words into her webs.
- A new take on “weaving outside the normal web design” comes from a delightful PB called SEAVER THE WEAVER by Paul Czajak