Monday, August 29, 2016

Just... WOW!

OK, argiope spiders are pretty awesome whenever you see them... the photo may not convey that the body of this bright yellow spider is about an inch, probably larger -- that's not counting the legs.  And the colors and patterns are just lovely.  The markings reflect UV light and help attract prey to the orb webs.  I've seen them with some interesting things in their web, even thrown the occasional grasshopper in to see what happens.  But this one had something I've never seen:
A big old blue darner dragonfly caught in its web.  (Yeah, I was a little saddened by that, but... it's the circle of life, people.  Let's all sing along...)  Anyhow, here they are together:
Nearby, we saw a pair.  This photo illustrates another interesting argiope phenomena.  The smaller spider in the foreground is the male.  The big one is the female.  As Chris aptly put it, the males will only hang around the females if they're really... we'll say "interested in mating," since this is a family-friendly blog.  Because she must be scary, if you're that size.  The male makes a parallel web by the female's; he vibrates her web to alert her of his presence.  After mating, she makes a brown, papery egg sac containing between 300 and 1400 eggs, and places it usually off to the side of the web.  The female will actually watch her eggs as long as she can, but she will die at the first hard frost.  The spiderlings (or whatever) hatch in the fall.   However, they don't come out of the protective egg sac until spring.  
Pretty cool, no? 

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