Posts Tagged: western spotted orb weaver
Today (Labor Day) began just like any other day.
And it ended just like any other day, except for the Labor Day celebrations that we humans plan.
For Nature's predators and prey that frequent our garden, however, it was an intertwining of life and death.
A western spotted orb weaver, Neoscona oaxacensis, spun a web on our tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii, and snagged, killed and wrapped a honey bee. Using the web as its lifeline, it tugged the bee into the shadows to eat it, undisturbed.
The tower of jewels, in bloom now for five months, looks like a tower of bees when the honey bees, syrphid flies, and carpenter bees share it. The plant is looking a little ragged now--it's going to seed--but it's still producing spectacular reddish-pink blossoms.
The spiders know where to spin their webs. They will be back tomorrow, as will the honey bees.
Western spotted orb weaver snares and wraps a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The spider's spots are visible in this photo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
After tugging the honey bee into the tower of jewels, the spider proceeds to eat it. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This honey bee narrowly missed being a target of the spider. It is nectaring on a tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Oh, what serious webs they weave.
Perfect concentric circles. Perfect for snagging prey. Perfect for capturing a few photographic images.
Orb weavers take on the classic shape popularized by Charlotte the spider in E.B. White's children's book, Charlotte's Web.
They rid the garden of many flying insects, such as gnats, mosquitoes, and moths.
Occasionally a honey bee becomes entangled in the web. The orb weavers are not particular in what they kill, wrap, and eat. It's part of the fabric of life.
This orb weaver (below) is a western spotted orb weaver, Neoscona oaxacensis, as identified by senior museum scientist Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis. Notice the round abdomen and the spots.
If you want to see some other garden spiders, check out the UC IPM website. Also, access BugGuide.Net, where scientists and citizen scientists have posted some great images of these amazing western spotted orb weavers.
A western spotted orb weaver, Neoscona oaxacensis, finishing its web. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Western spotted orb weaver patrolling its web. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Note the round or globular abdomen on this western spotted orb weaver. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)