Sunday, October 21, 2012

colonial orb weaver ~ 10/21/12 ~ Elkhorn Slough

Whenever I consider shutting down Nature ID due to the tremendous time commitment it requires, I'm reminded of the value of the personal narrative that's recorded as I learn about my local natural world.  Last summer while driving home from the grocery store I happened to meet a fellow who is the country's lead researcher on these unusual social spiders, which also happened to answer a question I had from the year before.  To read that post, click here.

Now, this past winter was definitely not an El NiƱo year, so it was interesting to find hundreds of these colonial orb weavers on Hummingbird Island and nowhere else we visited at Elkhorn Slough, exactly where the CA oak moths were most abundant - a great example of prey availability. Apparently, Metepeira spinipes are not always colonial.

In the first picture, above the spider are her egg sacs.  In the second picture, there are at least 3 different females, one in the center and the other 2 towards the top at 12:01 and 12:05 positions.  The plant they've spun their chaotic orb webs on is CA sagebrush (Artemisia californica).  And, here's a repeat link, because I like it so much in how these colonial orb weavers remind me of "Spiders on Drugs".


Jeannette said...

...if oak moths are the pantry then these spiders have no lack of food this year...

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Jeannette, I love your gift of poetry!