Thursday, July 22, 2010

Spider Webs

The main thing that captured my attention while I was at Dolly Sods were all the spider webs that were now visible because of the mist. It was incredible and the great thing was that I could actually photograph them. 

Basically there are just a few types of webs and they vary within each genus. The most common is the ORB WEB that most people see and learn to draw when we are children.  Studies have been done on it and how it is made and even a study was done in outer space to see if weightlessness made a difference. My first memory of an orb web was in our garden when I was about 8 years old. We had those large black and yellow spiders that I called, "writing spiders" because they looked like they wrote a secret message in the middle of the web and sat there daring a fly to come read it. I now know they are called, Argiope aurantia and there is still speculation on the use of the "writing" in the middle.

Below are two orb webs that I found a Dolly Sods and they are both just a little different from each other. Most orb webs are made by the family Araneidae, the Uloboridae and the Tetragnathida. Argiope aurantia is in the Araneidae family and I did not see any of those that day, even though they are common at Dolly Sods, I think they prefer a more open and sunny location.

You can see the spider sitting in the middle of this one.

This next one is like the Eiffel Tower of spider webs and very impressive to view. It is a variation of a SHEET WEB. The victim flies into the lines up above and then falls into the sheet below where it is grabbed by the spider.

You can just barely make out the spider just under the branch.

I think this one is a variation of a sheet web called a hammock web.

The one above is a BOWL AND DOILY WEB and again is another version of a sheet web. I see these a lot near my home. You can see the spider in the middle of the bowl part handing upside down. The are about the size of a soup bowl. It is made by a spider in the Linyphiidae family.

Above is another common on that is easy to find on a sunny day is the FUNNEL WEB. Often you can see the spider sitting at the entrance to the door. I see these along the Blue Ridge Tract trail that I take so often. They are on the side of trail, one about every 4-5 feet, and remind me of driving down an old neighborhood with the parents sitting out on the front stoop talking and watching the kids. I am always tempted to get a closer look but they quickly run inside when approach too closely.
 Here is a more upright funnel web of Wolf Spider. It is quite large as you can tell from the leaves.


I was very impressed by the smooth silk forming the funnel on this one.

I believe the one above is a web of a lampshade weaver (Hypochilidae). I found it near the Green Salamander at Coopers Rock State Park.

These next few are FILMY DOME WEBs about the size of a soccer ball.  This was the first time I had seen this type and if it hadn't been for the mist on them I probably would not have noticed them. They can be made by a spider in the Linyphiidae family.

So there you have it. I don't know a whole lot about them but they are so very interesting to look at and I am hoping that others will find them interesting as well and and want to learn more. 

Read more natural history stories at Nature Notes.


~Cheryl said...

Very interesting! I didn't realize there were so many different types of webs. I have a spider with a wicked sense of humor -- he drapes a strand somewhere across the driveway every night so I can walk into it every morning when I get the newspaper. :p

Woodswalker said...

Amazing and beautiful photos!

Trillium said...

I am continually amazed by the ingenuity of spiders in creatively using their environments to best advantage in their building projects. Thanks for studying and celebrating spiders!

Carver said...

This was so interesting to me and I'm impressed with the variety of shots you took of different webs. Amazing what the spiders can spin.

Rambling Woods said...

This is a really great Nature Notes post..I have been interested but didn't know any of this information. Thank you for explaining and for collecting all the photos..great reference post too...Michelle

Woodswoman Extraordinaire said...

What a great post! I recognize a lot of those, but a few were new to me. I'll be looking for them now!

Adrienne in Ohio said...

I love the garden spider webs, usually because I see them before I walk through them. They're so beautiful to see in the morning when they sparkle with the dew.

I've never really paid much attention to the others. Though, the funnel webs are familiar--we occasionally get wolf spiders in the basement. Thankfully, their funnels aren't as large in the house as the one you have pictured here. YIKES!