Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘yellow garden spider’

It had been quite a while since I had last seen a Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia), so I was pretty excited to see one during a visit this past weekend to Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, a tidal wetlands park along the Potomac River in Virginia.

The spider must have sensed my presence too, because she began to oscillate the entire web vigorously. I had to wait for her to settle down before attempting to get some shots. I was on an elevated boardwalk and the spider was considerably below the level of my feet. As a result, I had somewhat limited options for framing my shots, though I was able to photograph the spider from a couple of different angles, and was not able to get really close to the spider.

I was happy that I managed to capture the really cool zigzag portion of the spider’s web, a distinctive characteristic of this particular species.

Argiope spider

Argiope spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »