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Jul 04 2007

Harmless garden spider of the week

argiope_exoskeleton.jpg
Fig. 7

Here in Austin it has been raining for 40 days and 40 nights. Some spinster aunts would simply throw in the towel and take to their beds with tubs of Cool Whip when confronted with such seratonin-depleting meteorological anomalies, but I am not one of them. No, not I. Instead I don raiment suitable for diluvian revels (a blue plastic poncho of such uncompromising doofiness that Stingray will not associate with me when I’m wearing it) and hie for the Twisty Araneae Compound.

My diligence was rewarded yesterday when I encountered this excellent, recently shed argiope exoskeleton (Fig. 7). The argiope herself (Fig. 42) — now a size larger than before — was hanging out to dry, but having little luck, on accounta the deluge.

argiope_trifasciata1.jpg
Fig. 42

22 comments

  1. Hattie

    Isn’t nature grand? A spider of some variety or other hit it lucky a couple of nights ago in our living room. Before we could get the balcony doors shut, about 25 Formosan termites got into the house. Our lucky lady caught all 25 in her web. Now she just sits on the ceiling in an engorged state. I believe she is with egg.
    Also I killed three giant cockroaches last night. They sure do put up a fight.

  2. villiers

    Excellent photo, as always! I come for the blamin’ and stay for the varmints.

  3. goblinbee

    Exquisite.

  4. delagar

    I do love spiders. We have some nice tarantulas here in Pork Smith. They eat our scorpians.

  5. Pinko Punko

    Stunning. 2nd place to the amazing dragonfly from a wee bit back. Wow.

  6. PhysioProf

    “Harmless”

    Tell that to the bugs that get stuck in her web.

  7. MzNicky

    Rain, huh? I remember rain. Wet, falls down out of the sky, keeps yer grass from turning into shredded wheat? I wish you could send some of it up here to the glorious border state of Tennessee. We’ve had nothin’ but drought for 40 days and 40 nights. My coleus and Asiatic lilies would weep if they could summon up the moisture.

  8. Bird

    Oh, I do so love spiders. I spent many happy evenings last summer observing a massive orb weaver who had obligingly spun her web on my father’s porch light. My father, also being of the spider-loving persuasion, left her web alone, only disturbing her to take some amazing macro shots of her poised perfectly mid-web.

  9. Pinko Punko

    Arachnocentrism is not a victimless crime!

  10. Spinning Liz

    Damn, that babe has legs up to here. Shameless wolf whistle.

    Did she eat her husband yet?

  11. SusanM

    They build the most interesting webs! We had a bright yellow argiope in our garden one year. She hung out all summer, working as hard as we did, until some bumble bees moved in and began harassing her. One day we noticed she’d moved her web to the house– right up into my daughter’s window. She only stayed there for the weekend, and then was gone; we thought that was a very nice “So long!”

    Great photos, Twisty.

  12. Jezebella

    Could you Texans PLEASE stop hogging all the rain? Jeez. You’ve got spiders and shrimp foam, do you have to keep ALL the good stuff to yourself?

  13. Caukee

    Do they eat the exoskeleton ? It shouldn’t go to waste.

    It seems to me that with these spiders, as with the Praying Manti in my yard, we start out with thousands of tiny ones that get larger and fewer throughout the summer and fall. Are they cannibalistic ? both or either ?

    Seems to be a theme. Off in search of sustenance. I would eat some the blueberries from my bushes, but they aren’t ready, because someone is hogging all the rain.

    My SO, the medical librarian, says “seratonin” is a common misspelling of serotonin. I can’t tell. Spelling fell out of my brain a while back.

  14. Sara

    Neato!

  15. silvia sea

    Hey, if you folks in Austin want to send some of that rain our way, we’d love it! (it’s dry where I live.)

  16. larkspur

    Oh, Liz, you totally read my brain with this part: Damn, that babe has legs up to here. Shameless wolf whistle.

    But this part caught me by surprise: Did she eat her husband yet?

    Thank you Liz. Thank you Twisty. I don’t often get that laff riot feeling so early (left coast here), and whoa, it didn’t hurt a bit.

    Plus y’all are helping me deal with my fear of the Spider. I already know not to kill ‘em unless they have me by the throat. But they are remarkably elegant-looking.

    And yet: still mostly kinda terrifying.

  17. Ron Sullivan

    Larkspur, I got over any residual spider fear when I wrote a feature about them and talked to spider experts and then, in the course of watching the orbweaving types in my yard — ours are orangish, have big round butts, and get big and conspicuous around Hallowe’en, so one of my correspondents calls them “Jack-o’-lantern spiders — found myself trying to imagine how the world looks through those eight (or howevermany) eyes. Ditto with jumping spiders, who are hilarious and rather catlike in their eyesight and methods.

    Reason/knowledge -> empathy: good way out of scaredyhood. So far.

    Twisty, lovely. Good catch on that exoskeleton, too.

  18. Jodie

    Praying Manti do eat each other. I will never forget the time one laid eggs right above my door; I left the house in a rain of what looked like tiny straws only to realize they were teeny tiny Praying Manti (mantuses?), and some were already gorging on siblings right then and there.

  19. MzNicky

    Okay, we got about 1/16th of an inch of rain tonight. All the spiders are packing up and moving to Texas.

  20. RoseCampion

    Is that spider really as big as it looks? I guess it really is true what they say about everything being bigger in Texas. I approve of spiders in theory, but in practice, I get creeped out by anything bigger than one of those wolf spiders you sometimes see here in Chicago.

  21. Denise

    I had a couple of those in my flowers last summer. It broke my heart to have to make them move when I moved apartments. They’re so lovely and interesting.

    They can get to be rather big. By the time I moved out of that apartment their bodies were about 3/4 an inch long and of course their legs were much longer.

    Their webs get progressively messier as time goes on, then they shed their skins, wrap them up in the remains of their old crappy web, and then eat it all up and make a new, nice web with the distinctive zig-zag that you can see in Twisty’s second picture.

  22. Lara

    Twisty those are some kickass photos. I do photography so I can appreciate good shots when I see them. What type of lens and camera were you using?
    -Lara

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