It’s fall here in coastal Orange County, CA1, but determining that it’s fall can be difficult since we don’t have trees filled with yellow and red leaves. Around here I find that there’s no better indicator of fall than seeing one of these hanging around outside2:
These orb weaver spiders come out every year in late summer and early fall, building webs at dusk that are frequently more than a foot across and can have individual lines of silk running more than 10 feet from attachment point to attachment point. They’re amazing animals, and I love to see them every year3.
This year a few took up residence close enough for me to try out my new macro lens. And, since it’s almost Halloween, it’s a perfect time to post up some spider pictures. Here’s one of the spiders just hangin’ out:
In this profile shot you can see how the spider has a small strand of silk attaching herself to the web as a safety-strap:
The attachment points of all eight legs onto the bottom of the cephalothorax is a fun feature to focus on (and probably the last view of many a doomed insect):
I know that many people get creeped out by spiders, but really they’re quite beneficial animals. Take a look at this one, for instance, munching on a what I think is a cricket:
Do you really want that cricket inside your house chirping? I didn’t think so. And they catch mosquitoes, flies, and many other pestiferous insects too.
But, of course, spiders also hunt insects I’d rather not see killed, like poor honeybee foragers:
So, keep an eye out for these beautiful spiders next time you’re out and about around dusk in the fall. They’re a pleasure to watch, and they’ll help keep the insects away.
1 The highs have dipped into the low 70’s; break out the jackets!
2 Yes, yes, I could look at a calendar …
3 Except when they build a web directly across the pathway to my front door. Then I’m very unhappy to see them, since they build the webs at dusk, and I frequently get home at night.
To see more pictures of the spiders, head to my Orb weaver spider closeups gallery or click on the thumbnails below.