Posts Tagged ‘Yellow Garden Orbweaver spider’

Thanks to all of you for your overwhelming positive responses to a recent posting Some favorite photos of 2018 that showcased some of last year’s photos that I really like. Check out that posting if you have not seen it yet.

Interesting enough, not a single one of them was from my most-viewed posts of the year. How many views do you regularly get for one of your blog postings? One of my average postings tends to get about 60-80 hits. It is a rare and happy occasion for me to get as many as 100 views for any posting.

Here are links to my five most-viewed postings of 2018 and an indication of how many views they received in 2018 and since they were originally published. You’ll probably notice that four of them were taken in 2013 or earlier. Somehow these postings apparently appear in searches in Google and other search engines and that is how viewers find their way to my blog.

The photos below are ok, but they are certainly not among my favorite or best photos. A review of these statistics reinforces in me the notion that “views” are not a very accurate measuring tool for deciding if a posting or a photo is “good.”

Here is one fun fact about my blog—Red-footed Cannibalfly has been my most-viewed posting for the fourth year in a row. Who knew that so many people were fascinated by this fearsome insect?

Take a look at that posting (or any the others below) by clicking on the highlighted title. Maybe you will be able to discover for me the secret behind their relative popularity.

Red-footed Cannibalfly (31 August 2013) 366 views in 2018 (2457 views since published)

red-footed cannibalfly

Fuzzy white caterpillar (3 August 2013) 341 views in 2018 (1209 views since published)

fuzzy white caterpillar

Blue-eyed garter snake (9 May 2016) 218 views in 2018 (503 views since published)

garter snake

Yellow Garden Orbweaver with a Grasshopper (29 August 2012) 166 views in 2018 (214 views since published)

Insects gone wild (29 May 2013) 125 views in 2018 (901 views since published)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Finally I am starting to see some of the Yellow Garden Orbweaver spiders (Argiope aurantia) that fascinated me so much last summer. These spiders are big and colorful and have awesome webs with a distinctive zigzag section. I will be keeping an eye on the spiders to see if I can observe them catching prey and wrapping it up in silk.

Stay tuned for more spiders., most likely coming pretty soon to the blog—this spider is just the first fall installment.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Recently I have become fascinated with spiders, and in particular the Black and Yellow Garden Orbweaver spiders (Argiope aurantia). I’ve spent an amazing amount of time observing them and their webs. Already I have posted photos of the spiders themselves, their webs, and several types of prey that they have captured and wrapped in silk.

This past Monday I observed what I think was a spider actually feeding on a victim that I can’t quite identify. For some reason I used to think that spiders ate solid food, but now I understand that they have a mostly liquid diet. According to an article at earthlife.net, the mouth parts of these spiders have a serrated edge to cut into the prey and a filtering edge covered in fine hairs that prevents solid particles from entering the spider’s mouth. This filtering system is so fine that only particles smaller than 1 micron (0.001 of a mm) can pass through. The spider’s venom has enzymes which can help liquify the insides of a victim and the spider may also excrete digestive juices onto the victim. Spiders then have a sucking stomach that helps them ingest the liquids.

Argiope aurantia feeding on captured prey

Sharp-eyed viewers will notice that I rotated the image 90 degrees counterclockwise to make it easier to see what is going on. Note the positions of some of the spider’s legs as she cradles her victim. If you click on the image, you will get a higher-resolution view of the spider. My apologies if I have been too graphic in describing this spider’s digestive process.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A few days ago I posted a photo of a Yellow Garden Orbweaver (Argiope aurantia) that I photographed at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, VA. I was strangely attracted to those spiders and returned the next day to see if I could get a few more shots.

Here is one of my favorite shots from that day. The spider looks to be gnawing on the leg of a grasshopper that has been wrapped up and seems to be a little dried out. The grasshopper actually looks like he has been battered and deep-fried, but that seems to be a bit over the top, even for a Southern spider. You can also see a little of the zigzag pattern of the web at the bottom of the photo that is typical of the webs of this kind of orbweaver.

Yellow Garden Orbweaver Spider and Grasshopper (click on the photo to see more details)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This weekend a fellow photographer (Christy T.) pointed out some really interesting looking spiders while we were at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, VA. They were very colorful and big (at least they seemed really big, especially when looking through a telephoto lens). I had walked by the area where they were located (and there were probably at least ten of them), but had not noticed them until she prompted me to look more closely.

The spider (Argiope aurantia) goes by many different names including Black and Yellow Argiope, Yellow Garden Orbweaver, Writing Spider, and Yellow Garden Spider, according to BugGuide. These spiders had large webs with a very distinctive zigzag pattern in the center, which I learned from Wikipedia is called a stabilimentum. (I’m still going through my shots from yesterday when I returned to visit the spiders and may post a shot showing the zigzag pattern in a later post). Nobody seems to know for sure why they make that zigzag pattern, perhaps for camouflage or to attract prey.

One of the other really cool things about this spider is that it oscillates the web really vigorously when it feels threatened. My fellow photographer demonstrated this when she touched a web with a tripod’s leg (she did not want to get any closer). It was amazing to see the elasticity of the web as the spider moved—it reminded me of a slingshot being pulled back.

These spiders seem to catch some pretty big prey. There were grasshoppers in some of the webs and in the photo below the spider has captured a cicada. The Wikipedia article notes that the spider kills the prey by injecting its venom and then wraps it in a cocoon of silk for later consumption (typically 1–4 hours later). I think the spider in the photo may be in the process of wrapping up the cicada.

I continue to be amazed by the fascinating things that are in front of me that I have never seen before. It’s clear to me that my photographic journey is causing me to see the world differently, more attentively. That’s a good thing.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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