Saturday, September 7, 2013

Garden or Writing Spider

Argiope aurantia or the common garden spider is everywhere this fall. There are 4 or 5 inside my greenhouse, and goodness knows how many outside in the yard, flowers, and shrubs. To me it seems like there are more this year than usual. maybe we need them to take care of the mosquitoes, altho from what I have seen they tend to trap larger insects, like wasps and katydids. Maybe they take the mosquitoes for an immediate snack?
 Many, like the one pictured above have already mated, eaten their mate, laid their eggs and covered them in a silky sac to keep them safe through the winter. It is easy to tell the males from the females. The females are much bigger. Males usually have a small web somewhere near the female, for as long as he lasts. It's not uncommon among the spider clan for the female to feast on the male after the consummation. Perhaps his body provides needed nutrients for the egg maturation, or maybe she just gets distracted and hungry.
  Even as a child I felt both fascinated and terrified of  writing spiders. They are so beautiful with their  patterns of yellow and black. They seem to be alerting me to their presence, warning me to keep back, yet tempting me to take a longer look. I wondered what they were writing about . Was it secret spider knowledge? Their address?  Their shopping list? Or is it merely (can Merely be applied to anything as exquisite as a spider web?) re enforcement to the center part of the web?
 Though they may hang in their webs for weeks eating and threatening, catching and winding up their prey, looking out on a world with spider eyes we cannot be privy to, in the end, one day they are just gone.They  leave behind the ball of silk that will break open late next summer to release a new brood into the world. What happens to them? Do they just wear out and die? Or do the birds find them and eat them? Whatever  happens, I miss them as the days begin to drift into cooler territory.

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