Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Our 8 legged neighbors

Spiders seem a natural topic to start with given that that are a frequent visitor in my life lately. There is a good number of them living throughout the area surrounding my home. Even in my yard there is a wealth of spider species, many of which I do not know very well or at all. It seems for each micro-habitat, there are several species of spider.

One of the most common in my yard and from my experience, throughout the greater Puget Sound area is the garden or cross spider, also called the cross orb weaver (Araneus diadematus). They often have a series of white dots or lines on their abdomen that form a whitish cross.

It is the in orb weaver family of spiders, which are the ones that make beautiful spiraling webs on support lines. These webs tend to radiate out from the center, and are amazing to watch being built. This species, like many in its family will spin a new web each night. Though, weird as it might sound, they don't waste the old silk from the previous nights web. They eat it!

Nature is super-efficient and nothing goes to waste.

Like most members in the orb weaver family, this species has fairly small eyes and therefore, poor eye sight. Probably seeing mainly shapes and movement. Their sense of touch is very keen, however. If you so much as breath gently on their web they will feel it and respond.

Here is a shot of the underside of one of those beautiful spiders.

Despite the fact that these spiders can grow to a pretty good size - females can be 3/4" in body length and legs can spread to about 2 inches - they are very gentle animals. Like most spiders, they generally don't bite even when they are handled carefully.

Here is a topside view of the same kind of spider.

To me they are a powerful symbol of interconnection, weaving of dreams and creative force of nature and the universe. They are also one of my favorite invertebrates.

Seen these around your yard, outside your home or office?

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