Spiders: Intricate Weavers

On cool September mornings, dew reveals the intricate weavings of spiders.

September 20, 2010 | | Notes from the Wild

Cool, still mornings in September are great occasions to rouse early and find spider webs. Be prepared to get wet. On such mornings the grasses and goldenrod are drenched in dew. But dew is what you want, for it reveals the intricate weavings of the spiders.

You’ll find their webs just about everywhere – lovely lacey constructions strung throughout meadows, usually with the architect clinging to the centre, herself an object of beauty – beaded also, by sparkling dew.

These webs beg to be photographed. Before the sun has an opportunity to energize the wind, tripods can be set up and marvelous photos taken. Tripods though, are not necessary.

Lovely pictures can be had just after the sun caresses the fields with its rays. Then, with much more light to play with, you can hand-hold your camera. Time is of the essence of course. Soon the dew vaporizes and the webbing becomes well nigh invisible.

The sheer quantity of webbing in a late summer field is astounding. Like aerial fishermen the spiders cast their lace nets thickly among wildflowers and shrubbery. It is a wonder that any bees, flies, wasps or moths survive this deadly beauty.

Ponder, for a moment, the sheer wonder of a tiny eight legged creature being able to manipulate webbing in such intricate spirals and spokes.

You’ve likely heard stories about this marvelous stuff: stronger than steel, more flexible than nylon – properties that have attracted the attentions of scientists. (I remember hearing one speak of genetically modifying cow milk so spider webbing could be spun from it – don’t know what became of that!)

Late summer is the spiders’ last hurrah. The females build the big webs. It is they who seek to suck dry as many insects as possible to build energy to produce their egg cases.

When hard frost strikes they die, along with most of their prey and the meadows lie lonely, waiting for the snows.

About the Author More by Don Scallen

Don Scallen enjoys sharing his love of nature through his writing and presentations. Check out his blog "Notes from the Wild".

Comments

1 Comment

  1. Dear Don:

    A great article, and wonderfully brief yet informative. I’ve always had a slight aversion to spiders, but maybe I have to work on this a bit. The stupendous colour in your photo is enough to get me started.

    Brian Naulls,
    Amateur nature enthusiast
    Grafton, ON

    brian naulls on Oct 4, 2010 at 11:26 am | Reply

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