Spiny-backed Spider and More

Top Photo: Spiny-backed orb weaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis) Only about 1/2” wide, spiny-backed orb weavers are distinctive for their shape and pattern. The individual pictured is mostly white with black markings and red spikes. But, they may also be yellow or red with shades in between. The spines may be black. Some suggest the spines may deter predators such as birds or even subterranean-nesting, spider-seeking, solitary wasps. I doubt birds would be put off by the spikes. I must admit, though,Read more

Green Lynx

It was a loosely wrapped nest of silk on a plant in the garden above the Butterfly House. What looked at first to be seeds under a loose knit top layer of silk were actually the tiny abdomens of dozens of spiders. The seeds jumped to life when I poked at the nest with my finger. The mother of these juvenile green lynx spiders hung by her eight legs beneath the nest. Green lynx spiders don’t build webs to captureRead more

The End of the Line

Each fall morning as we leave our house to drive to school and the Museum, my daughter pushes me out of the door first. Somewhere along the line she has acquired a fear of spiders and a distinct aversion to their webs (this is very common aversion). In the fall there’s lots of spider webs about, several on my back porch. If I go out the door first my passage tends to clear a path for her, I wipe outRead more

Paralyzed spiders for my babies, please!

You have no doubt seen the object, or one like it, in the photo at right. It’s an Organ Pipe Mud Dauber’s nest. One individual constructed the “pipes” in the photo, a female wasp. The male may be nearby to guard the nest but doesn’t participate in its construction. Each pipe may have anywhere from several to a dozen cells within. The cells are stocked with spiders which the female paralyzes with venom from her stinger. Once stocked with spiders,Read more