Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My garden orb weaver lives up to her name - Wonderful

Wonderful, a garden orb weaver (Eriophora pustulosa), is living a very active life. (See the previous blog for her introduction.) Last night, she was hanging around on her web, just as garden orb weavers should. 

Please click on the images - I'm rather proud of these!

She collected a lots of food on a hot, moist night - the first rain for months had just started dribbling. She was soon feeding on two wasps she'd bound together.

Another wasp flew into her web - she rushed down the silk and rapidly enshrouded her new prey in silk. Having injected it, she left the struggling wasp to die while ... 

 ... she returned to dinner.

The rain started. She headed under a leaf at the edge of her web.

And took up her usual resting position, one foot on her main web thread to detect any newly ensnared insect.

When the rain got heavy, she bound the leaves around her into a shelter. And there she sat out the storm.

Love this spider! She's Wonderful!

Monday, February 25, 2013

She's Wonderful - I have an orb weaver!

This summer has been horribly dry and hot. The spider numbers are woefully low as are, not surprisingly, the insects. I thought I had no orb weavers.

I had seen hints of silk of one at the end of the verandah, but had never seen her. Tonight the silk was reflecting clear - it was fresh and crossing a span of two metres. She had to be there somewhere. Trying to follow the silk, I felt something against my arm - something about the size of a mature female garden orb weaver. I moved away immediately, hoping that I hadn't hurt her web. And I found her!

She's Wonderful! The two protrusions on her 'shoulders' and then more on the end of her abdomen tell me that she's an Eriophora pustulosa. She had dashed over to the edge of her silk line, attached to which was only the remains of what had been a full orb. She'd clearly caught prey earlier in the evening.

I couldn't get a good photo without disturbing Wonderful, so you'll have to make do with bum-shots. She's repairing her web - you can see the globules of glue in one silk. She wouldn't come out of the protection of the leaves while I was there.

I have been negligent about blogging - I've been preoccupied with completing my PhD thesis (not about spiders) and then redrafting it for publication as a book. But that is done and my spiders can take priority again. There are so many fewer this year than usual, but of course there are the daddy long-legs (Pholcus phalangioides).

And I always have my favourites, the blackhouse spiders (Badumna insignis). They've been breeding with gusto.

Their stories will be told here. I will also include photos from those who read this blog and send me images. The Spiderblogger returns!