Rain is a wonderous thing. Many days of smoke saturated skies slowly began being refreshed as droplets scoured away wildfire-created carbon. Soot, dust, and stink were washed from the air, and Nature slowly started to get back into her routines.
In the garden, a Cross Orb Spider’s quest to capture food was revealed by droplets glistening from a round web it hung in the zinnia garden.
For several days, I watched the activity in the web. The spider and her habits became the focus for a multiday photo project.
The photos I created the first day were from pretty much from the same perspective… looking primarily at the web as a whole.
When I returned to the web the next morning, the magical glow of water droplets caught in the web were replaced by the stark practical reality of why orb spiders spin webs.
My fascination with the complex system of behaviors an Orb Spider performs to feed itself grew as my camera lens zoomed in on the details. Tried as I did, my frustration on this day was not being at the web at the moment the web made a catch.
That brings me to my third day of observing and photographing the Cross Orb Spider. A lesson I’ve been learning over the past years as an aspiring Photo-Naturalist is that some of the best experiences happen when least expected. That was true on this day. It turned out that the spider I’d been watching had a neighbor.
The neighbor was discovered quite by surprise. When I was framing a shot, a little drop of movement occurred on a zinnia just a bit to the right of my frame. The distraction caused a glance over that direction. BINGO! The neighbor Cross Orb Spider dropped onto its web to trap and wrap an insect! This next set of photo tells that story. If you wish to see larger images, please click on the gallery to create a slide viewer.
This is an example of a before and after example of a Hover Fly who was processed as a spider meal.
This project offered me a fascinating opportunity. I experienced spider webs in a way other than the usual unexpectant walk into one and then curse the eight-legged creature that dared to spin it. My camera took me on an interesting adventure where I gained a deepened appreciation for a spider’s near invisible work. I was able to peer in for a closer look to discover what happens once a spider engineers this intricate method for trapping food. Nature has an uncanny ability to provide each creature in the wild with specialized mechanisms for survival.
I’m more aware about spiders now… are you?