Orb-weaver extraordinaire

[Taking a break from Africa, a story from my garden in Maine.]

From time to time I am lucky enough to watch a spider mother setting up her nursery. This small spider, the Six-spotted Orb Weaver, Arianella displicata, is related to the Cucumber Spider. She is 4-8mm long, and highly skilled! In this shot she is upside down, but the photo is taken from below, and you can see the six black spots at the end of her abdomen.

She has laid her eggs, and enclosed them in a golden net .

Now the spider is cabling the edge of the grapevine leaf so it curls over to shelter the egg sac;

Look carefully at the lower part of the photo above and you can see that she has also spun an orb web, to catch her dinner. The silk is emerging from her spinnerets, the blackish orifice on the underside of her abdomen:

Three hours later I came back to see what she was up to, and this is what I found:

She had caught a Rose Chafer in her orb web. It is much bigger than she is, but that did not stop her tucking in:

.

Luckily for the Rose Chafer population, the survival of the species had been ensured the previous day on a nearby chive flower:

The night after the spider wove her web there was heavy rain, and the next morning she and her egg sac were still there, but the orb web and Rose Chafer had gone, and the cables that were holding the curled leaf had snapped. But she was still guarding her eggs, patting down the egg sac.

She was also showing me her face with its six eyes, four black dots in the center and one to each side. (The number and arrangement of the eyes is another clue to identifying spider species.)

PS The golden crêche created by the spider reminds me of the spun-sugar cage of a croquembouche as created by a master pastry chef. Here is a spectacular example from the website https://www.craftybaking.com/recipe/croquembouche

Only a few humans can do this, but every Arianella mother can.

3 thoughts on “Orb-weaver extraordinaire”

  1. Fascinating. Six dots on the end of the Orb Weaver remind me of the six dots on a Monarch chrysalis. The chive blossom with united Rose Chafers is amazing! Croquembouche looks delicious…have you ever eaten some or made one?

    Like

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