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Posts Tagged ‘Yellow Garden Orbweaver’

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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Throughout much of the summer I posted photos Black and Yellow Garden Orbweaver spiders (Argiope aurantia). Having not spotted one in several weeks,  that they were gone until next year. I was happy to be wrong, however, and photographed one yesterday. I was even more delighted that the background colors work well for autumn and for Halloween (and nothing says Halloween more than a creepy spider).

Autumn spider

© 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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As I was going through some photos this morning I realized that I have a lot of photos of the Yellow Garden Orbweaver spider (Argiope aurantia). I have posted quite a few photos, but most have shown the spider with a prey. I came across an image of the spider by herself and started playing with it in Photoshop Elements. This first image is the result of my experimentation—it is cropped and rotated and focuses on only part of the subject. I think it is a little more dramatic thank the original image. (You can get a higher resolution view of all of the images if you click on them.)

Creeping spider

You can see below the original image after a minor crop. I remember when I took the shot that I had to twist my body around to get the desired angle of view of the spider in the center of her web, waiting patiently for prey. This morning I initially liked the image a lot and was going to post it, but then decided to rotate it 90 degrees to see what it looked like.

Side view of spider

After the rotation, it looked like the image below. It seems to me that by simply shifting the plane of view, the spider appears like more of a predator, like she is more aggressively stalking her prey rather than waiting for it to arrive. I keep going back and forth in trying to decided if I like this image more than the cropped image that I started with. What do you think? Which of the three images do you like most?

Creeping spider (full body)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I’m amazed at the size and intricacy of the webs of the Yellow Garden Orbweaver spiders (Argiope aurantia) whenever I see them at Huntley Meadows Park here in Alexandria, VA. This past weekend I had a chance to see how effective these webs are when a bee flew into the web of a spider that I was observing.

Previously I posted some photos of these spider with prey (a grasshopper and a cicada) that had been captured earlier and wrapped up in silk, but I didn’t really understand how the spider accomplished this. In this case, as soon as the bee touched the web, the spider moved quickly from the center of the web and in a few seconds had wrapped up its newest victim. I was so fascinated by what was happening in front of my eyes that my reaction time was delayed and I missed photographing those initial actions. However, I stayed and observed (and photographed) the spider’s subsequent actions.

The first photo below shows the spider as she is wrapping up the wrapping up of the bee. It’s a little hard to believe that the long package is just a bee, but I’m pretty sure that’s all that there is inside. (With all three photos, you can click on them and get a somewhat higher resolution view.) After the bee had finished, she left the package at the periphery of the web and returned to the center of the web, where she usually resides, probably hoping for another victim.

After several minutes wait, she returned to the bee and and began to transport it to the center of the web. In the photo below, you can see how she held the wrapped-up bee with some of her legs as she crawled along the strands of the web. The zigzag portion of the web is part of the path that leads to the center.

Once she was back in the center, it looks like she was preparing to eat her newly captured meal. I really like the varied positions of her legs in this photo as she holds on to her prey.

You may have noticed the blurry contours of another, smaller spider in the upper portion of the final photo. There were two small spiders hanging around the web and they seemed to be fighting with one another. I tried to capture that dynamic and will post a photo if I find one that is clear enough. I suspect that one of them may have been the mate of the female spider. Bugguide notes that the male of this species is considerably smaller than the female. Not counting legs, the male is usually 5-6 mm in size and the female is 14-25mm. I am not sure who the “other guy” was. Maybe he’s another male competing for the affections of this “lovely” lady. Any ideas?

© 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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