In exactly one month’s time, I will be 44 years of age. Almost mid-forties. It’s kind of fun watching the days count down to a birthday. (And it’s fun to see what coincidences might result once you’re looking for them!)
Remember when Cody went blundering through an Orb Weaver’s web? Well, saw a beauty of a web and spider this morning walking back along the trail.
The Orb Weaver family is a large one, with over 2800 species worldwide. This one is the Argiope aurantia, the Yellow Garden Spider. The Latin name literally translates to “gilded silver-face.” (I don’t know about you, but I always see an alien head in the markings.) The females are larger, not quite twice the size of the males, but close; those are the ones you’re going to notice, bright white and vivid yellow patterned with intense black.
While they will bite if they feel threatened, they’re not aggressive, so you can get up close and personal with a camera if you want to. And even if you do get bit, it would be about like a bee sting – red, a bit swollen, a little painful for a while, but their venom apparently doesn’t affect humans.
They like to live next to open sunny fields, places where they’re somewhat protected from the wind but also have a way to anchor their webs. And what webs they weave! Large circular patterns that catch the dew and glisten like a thousand glittering diamonds in the morning sun. Oh, and that curious zigzag pattern you see in some orb weaver webs? It’s called a stabilimentum, and scientists aren’t quite sure of its purpose. The hypotheses include: A warn-off to birds; camouflage for the spider as she sits in the middle of the web; a way to lure in prey.
Since they mostly eat insects, I’m happy enough to have them around. Plus, they’re photogenic!