Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday Vignette: Spider Season

It's that time again.  Carrying a stick or a broom as one moves through the garden in early morning is recommended, at least if one wants to avoid getting one's face wrapped up in the silky strands of a spider's web.  The Cross Orbweavers (Araneus diadematus) are out in force.  As spiders go, they're very attractive creatures and an appropriate subject for a Wednesday Vignette, the meme hosted by Anna of Flutter & Hum to share interesting images.

The spider's common name derives from the white spots that form a cross on the creature's abdomen.  The spider is native to Europe but immigrated to North America like so many of our American ancestors.  It weaves an orb-shaped web and is generally found at its center with its head faced downward.  


This female spider initially constructed her bed, considerately I thought, just outside the flow of traffic above a grouping of Stipa tenuissima (Mexican feather grass) adjacent to the outdoor porch we created for our cats, occupied now by just one cat, Pipig.  (To be truthful, our house is Pipig's domain but she does hang out on the porch off and on.)

If you look closely, you can see the delicate spider web with the female spider at the center


She wasn't alone in the area.  Spider webs are everywhere.

This web, still covered in morning dew, was easier to see but I couldn't bring myself to look at it closely to determine if what was caught in it was debris or something else


However, yesterday morning, after finding that the neighborhood raccoons had left their calling card at the fountain, I was stalking through the garden in a mission to determine what damage they had wrought and I found that my considerate spider had moved, weaving a new web across one of our main paths, which I came within inches of walking into.

The web between the pillar and the frame of the cat's porch was nearly invisible


I stopped just in time as I saw her, seemingly hanging in open air in the middle of the path as it transitions from the side porch to the flagstone pathway leading through the arbor to the front yard.

Neither she nor I would have been happy if I'd charged through the space


As gently as I could, I broke the web, allowing the spider to move safely to a nearby potted Copper Spoons plant  (Kalanchoe orgyalis), where she rested for a time.

In this position, the cross on her abdomen is less apparent but this is the same spider as in the preceding photo.  She looks rather pretty against the felt-like brown foliage of the Kalanchoe.


She was gone just a little later when I checked on her but I suspect I'll see her again.  Hopefully, I'll be prepared for our next encounter.

Visit Anna at Flutter & Hum to see what images captured her attention and that of other participants this week.


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

20 comments:

  1. It's not much fun getting a spider in the face and worse still when it gets in your hair and then down your back. I am convinced that was how I got a spider bite on my neck. I noticed a spider with an egg case this morning but haven't seen an Argiope for several years. Always would see their huge egg sacs hanging in the most unlikely places, like on the face of a wall. I think they were too exposed and didn't survived.

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    1. I find the egg cases more often than active spiders, except this time of year. Walking through the garden really is like running an obstacle course every morning.

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  2. Great photos of the cross spider. I have them all over here too, and walked right into a web just the other day. I've had a few bug bites on my body lately, and can't help wondering if they're from spiders. If they're in the way and I see them in time, I also try to gently unstick some of the anchor lines and encourage them to build elsewhere.

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    1. According to the on-line source I consulted, these particular spiders "seldom bite." However, I have bites too so I don't think house spiders are so circumspect.

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  3. We have soooo many spiders outside. You should see the webs on the porch lights.

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    1. There's a noticeable uptick in the number of webs I see outside this time of year. They're all over my Ceanothus hedge.

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  4. Wonderful photos and a great reminder to keep an eye out for the weavers in our midst. It was fascinating to see the different spans that spider would cover depending on the spot chosen for the day's hunting. From pillar to side wall looks like quite a reach.

    (Sorry about the raccoons! Wretches!)

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    1. Ms. Spider built a new web over the feather grass again last night, outside the flow of traffic. I left her unmolested to go about her business.

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  5. Nice photos. I like spiders, but I'm not a fan of getting webbed in the face, either. My favorites are the black and yellow garden spiders. Have you seen those?

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    1. No, I don't think so, Evan, although I can't say I recognize most of them. The orb weavers are distinct and their reappearance every year at this time makes them more easily recognizable to me.

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  6. What wonderful photos! I love how she built her web in the feather grass, and how you gently brought her to safety on the Kalanchoe I always feel terrible when I trample through their craft.

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    1. I wished her no harm but I knew that, even if I avoided walking into her web, someone else surely would. She's already built a new web outside the usual (walking) traffic flow.

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  7. I wonder why autumn is THE time for spiders; it is the same here, even though the weather has only just become autumnal the spiders have been busy for at least a couple of weeks.

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    1. I just looked up the orb weaver spiders again to see if there was any information on their fall timetable, Christina. Apparently, adult spiders generally mate and produce egg sacs in the fall, dying soon afterwards. The baby spiders remain in the sac until winter is over and emerge in early spring. I guess hunting proceeds mating and baby-making.

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  8. Love the shot of the web on the feather grass and the one with the morning dew on it! I can understand why you'd carry a stick. It'd be one thing to walk face first into a web, which is always icky, but another to have the spider wrapped against your face by its own web! Eeek.

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    1. I'm more creeped out by the webs than the spiders themselves, Amy. That sticky silk seems almost impossible to get rid of (short of a shower).

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  9. I love this so much. Beautiful photos of a healthy garden with some (presumably) very happy spiders! Those big orb weavers are just beautiful -- my place is all about the long-legged spiders that build their messy webs near the patio light... not pretty.

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    1. I've got some of those sloppy spiders too, Luisa. The orb weavers do have a greater sense of style ;)

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  10. I love this spidery post Kris. It has made me want to go out looking for beautiful webs here.

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    1. The orb weavers build shapely webs, Chloris, but you still wouldn't want to walk into one and, without dew to add some sparkle, they can be hard to spot.

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