Thursday, March 20, 2008
WARM WEATHER HAS ENCOURAGED THEM
This is the Golden Orb weaver, female and her mate, the small twerp on top. The image is by Frank Starmer. They're usually on the decline by this time of year but the warm weather has caused a boom in spider babies. Lots, since they may produce 300 from one egg sac.
During January and February, the females are still eating but the males have stopped and are looking for sex instead. So they should, the mating season is short and so are their lives as the females are inclined to eat the smaller male after mating. Sometimes the male will leave one of their legs in the web and while the female is chowing down, makes his escape. That's the trouble with males, there's always a smart one.
The Orb weavers belong to the Araneidae family - the masterweavers. They're easily frightened and will drop to the ground and pretend to be dead. (like me if I run into one) I haven't had a Garden Orb here for nearly 10 years but I don't miss having to shine a torch up the driveway to see if there's a web stretching from tree to fence. It didn't matter how huge the web was, the Orb would have eaten it by morning, ready to start over again at dusk. The silk of the web is made of two types, ordinary for the outline and main strands then filled in with a special sticky silk strand which is the insect trap.
I like the idea of cannabilising the mate though and there's always another horny weaver further up the branch.