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Month: December 2016

Window-Wide Webs

Window-Wide Webs

For many years I’ve had an imaginary pet spider, Amanda, and I even wrote a few stories about her. One day she actually showed up outside my workshop window and demonstrated her web-building skills. I was able to capture this on my new (at the time) semi-pro video camera.

 

This particular type of spider is known as the golden silk orb-weaver. They grow up to about two inches in size, not including leg span. With the legs, some are over five inches in size. Web silk is golden in color, hence the name. Their species is the oldest surviving spider genus. Fossil remnants are 165 million years old. They are mildly venomous, causing redness, blisters, and pain at the bite area. Their Latin name, Nephila clavipes, means “fond of spinning.”

As you watch her rebuilding the web, it appears she does it entirely by touch. Some of the legs wave about, searching for the non-sticky draglines (the spokes of the circle) and then she uses another leg to attach the sticky silk.

The first portion of the video shows her in action close up. Starting at 4 minutes in, there is a zoomed-out, and speeded-up portion which shows her circling around the web.

I filmed her for several days but was never able to be there when something was captured by the web. I really wanted to see what she does with the prey. Unfortunately, I only saw her while she was doing her repairs.

There are other videos I have which show her preparing an egg case on the outside of the window frame. I checked on this regularly, hoping to see a lot of little spiders emerge, but one day both the mama and the egg case were gone. Perhaps the victim of a larger predator. Or she found a new home.

While large, and fearsome looking, these spiders are quite harmless and need to be encouraged, since they prey on other nuisance insects.