Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Charlotte's Web

"I saw a spider sign her web today."

That's the line that's been singing in my head ever since yesterday morning, when I was allowed to witness a black and gold garden spider rebuild the center of her web.

I first noticed that she'd come to share our home last week, when I saw her in the remains of her web, hanging outside our kitchen sliding door. As I went in and out, she scuttled away to hide in the grill cover that was lying nearby.

When I came down to the kitchen the next morning, her graceful web was spread all the way across the moving side of the sliding door, with the center at nose height. I debated moving her, then decided to let her stay. It's been a little inconvenient, since we can't use that door for now, but being able to watch her daily activivies has been enjoyable. Another up-close-and-personal learning experience for me.

Besides, just seeing her there makes me smile.

As usual, I've done some web research to augment what little knowledge I had about garden spiders. Most of that I'll share in a later post. For now I just wanted to share these photos. The one above is of her weaving the signature into her web. (I was a little surprised - the silk of her signature is spun as multiple strands at once, so making the zigziag actually took her very little time.)
The photo to the left was taken immediately after she finished her daily masterpiece, having "assumed the position" in which she spends her time waiting for her next meal to present itself.

Oh, and by the way.... In my web research, I learned that another common name for this species is writing spider. There could hardly be a more appropriate name. Perhaps I should name our housemate, Charlotte.


Kitt said...

"As usual, I've done some web research ..." Pun intended?

I love seeing how creative spiders can be, though I prefer they keep it outside. There are countless varieties, it seems, and most of them are harmless and beneficial, happily.

Gaia gardener said...

I can't believe I actually didn't catch that pun! Glad you did, though.

"Charlotte" is outside...just barely. It makes watching her particularly enjoyable, as I can get my nose 3" away and not be afraid of getting it caught. A new definition of "nosey" I guess. (And yes, that one was a poor pun attempt.)

I don't mind the little black hunting spiders inside, but I obviously dislike finding brown recluse, which are common household pests in Kansas. They get killed on sight. Wolf spiders, etc., usually get caught and escorted outside.

treesneday said...

Argiope sp. which I believe this is is one of the creatures I look forward to seeing every fall and I've gotten pretty good at spotting her zigzags in fields of goldenrod. One year I spent time watching, photographing, and waiting for the time when she would create her egg sack and leave it hanging for the winter. Although I have yet to spy a male Argiope, I did find many of the egg sacks hanging like little shrivelled, browned lemons from the tops of the goldenrod. Somehow I feel she is an omen of good luck, especially when I find her in my own garden, which is rare. What a beautiful creature! So great that she was so close for observation!

Gaia gardener said...

"Charlotte's" egg sac was created at night and is currently hanging about 3-4' away from where her web was. I'm keeping a close eye on it and hope to catch the spiderlings hatching out this spring. I feed birds all winter and have been a little surprised that the egg sac has not been broken into by now. Apparently many of them are.

And, yes, she was an Argiope, Argiope aurantia I believe.

Her coloration is perfect for a field of goldenrod - I'll have to look more carefully for Argiopes in goldenrod next fall. Although I'm afraid all I've got are occasional plants of goldenrod, not entire fields.

I've seen the males occasionally in the webs of the females. They are much smaller and more delicate. They hardly look like the same species at all.

I agree wholeheartedly about feeling like these spiders are a sign of good luck when I see them.