I was delighted to be pointed at garden orb weaver photos on Facebook. Andrew Peter had discovered a large orb weaver (Eriophora biapicata) taking advantage of the light on his back porch.
She was the most typical colouring for Eriophora biapicata. He named her Regal jr., after my Regal, who has featured before on this blog. In the middle photo, Regal jr has just finished a meal. The mangled remains are to the left of her mouth.
Unfortunately, Regal is no more. Her web was ruined two nights ago. The main strand was in place, but the web had been ripped - just the way it is when a night bird rips a spider from her web. I have seen it. I had a torch on one of these orb weavers watching it one night when a frogmouth (an insectivorous night bird) flew straight into the web, snatching the spider I had so generously lit up for it. I felt terrible! But I digress. Back to my story.
Andrew had two other orb weavers in his sights. And two of his photos caused me a shock:
These are clearly Eriophora, but there are strange bumps on the end of the abdomen. It cause me a shock because I had just photographed this little spider on my back porch, having never seen those humps before. Was I seeing a deformed spider? She was also a strange colour. Resting in the grouting of the brickwork, I named her Groutesque.
A bit of research soon identified these spiders as Eriophora pustulosa, which is not an uncommon spider, but I have never seen one before.
So is this a coincidence? Or are these spiders changing their range and becoming more common in the Melbourne area? I'd love to hear from anyone else who has noticed them, or knows anything about them. Meanwhile, Andrew and I will keep watching.
I am delighted to report that Andrew is now an addicted spider watcher, even enjoying messing aorund with his photos in Photoshop for Christmas. Isn't this gorgeous?
Thank you so much to those who have been writing to me and saying how much they are enjoying the blog. I'd love to compare notes with other spider fans. So little is known about spider behaviour in the wild. Our observations may well highlight new behaviours.
Thank you, Andrew, for allowing me to use your photos. I hope you will contribute to The Spiderblogger again soon. Please let me know how Regal Jr is getting on.
Must go now - I want to play with spider images in Photoshop!