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Archive for the 'Spiders' Category

Spider wrapping up a bee in its web for lunch

Beginning the process of wrapping a bee. Photo by Barry Hart, Concord, CA
1bee spider barry hart concord

Gary:
My wife spends a lot of time tending her dahlias.  When she shouts “spider”, I run for my camera!  I was set up to take this one when it suddenly ran to a bee that had flown into its web.  I took several shots of the spider wrapping up the bee, but what was most interesting to me was the number of very tiny web strands that it was generating to do the job.  I couldn’t see them until I got the photo on the computer… It was also amazing to see how the spider took the bee from its initial position (entangled in many web strands) to a more convenient position for wrapping it up.  It got the bee to be suspended between two multiple strands and then spun it like it was on a skewer.  Nature is truly amazing.
Barry Hart, Concord, California

Barry:
Spiders are wonderful creatures and their use of their webs is amazing, as you saw. Your beautiful photos really illustrate this. Multiple types of web to be used for wrapping their prey … some sticky … and some not sticky which the spider uses to walk on. The spider’s ability to play our web in a long line that gets caught in the wind and carried across wide spaces until it sticks on the other side … so the spider can build its web across a large area … is also something to think about. But that’s another story for another time. /Gary

Job almost done. A snack for later. Photo by Barry Hart, Concord, CA
1bee spider2 barry hart concord

Posted on Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Under: Spider web, Spiders | 2 Comments »

California tarantulas caught in a web of lies

California tarantula on Mount Diablo. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
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Dear readers:
The California Department of Fish and Game sent out the news release below about tarantula myths and Halloween. It seems appropriate to print this now, with Halloween just 4 days away. If you are afraid of spiders, I suggest you cover your eyes before reading it. :) /Gary

California Tarantulas Caught in Web of Lies

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to crush the myths surrounding one of the season’s most misunderstood critters – the tarantula. These hefty, hairy spiders have been unjustly maligned for decades and Department of Fish and Game (DFG) wildlife biologist Nathan Graveline wants to set the record straight.

Graveline has been fascinated with tarantulas since he was a young boy growing up in the Central Valley, where these spiders enjoy the dry, well-drained soil.

“I handled quite a few tarantulas and was never bitten, but I did get a rash from the small irritating hairs on their backs,” said Graveline.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, October 27th, 2011
Under: Spiders, Tarantulas | 6 Comments »

Spiders: This spider spins those BIG round webs in your yard.

Black and yellow argiope spider spins big round beautiful webs in your yard. Photo by Sally Caron, Lafayette, CA
1argiope black and yellow sally caron laf

Gary:
Any idea what kind of spider this is?  Discovered him while doing yard work today.
Sally Caron, Lafayette, California

Sally:
It’s called a “Black and Yellow Argiope. This is one of the spiders we call “Garden Spiders,” that spin those big round webs in our backyards. Beautiful! I don’t use pesticides in my backyard garden, and I have about 10 of these wonderful spiders spinning their huge webs between my wire tomato baskets. they catch a lot of the insects that some people try to kill by spraying pesticides. Much better to have the spiders do it for you. Lots safer than spraying poisons around the vegetables you’re planning to eat. They also light up my garden like decorations on a Christmas tree. /Gary

Posted on Monday, October 10th, 2011
Under: Spider web, Spiders | 1 Comment »

A garden spider’s web sparkling with life in the early morning sun

Garden spider’s web in the morning sun. Photo by Cecilia Mason, Danville, CA
1garden spider web cecilia mason

Gary:
Just couldn’t help sending one of the pictures I took in my yard this morning.  Lots of webs around catching the early morning sunshine!
Cecilia Mason, Danville, California

Cecilia:
I love to see the morning sun sparkling off a garden spider’s web like a silken universe revolving around the brightest star in the sky. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, September 8th, 2011
Under: Spider web, Spiders | 1 Comment »

Jumping spider ambushes unlucky wasp on hummingbird feeder

Daring Jumping Spider grabs wasp on hummingbird feeder. Note characteristic white spots on the spider’s abdomen. Photo by Jay Stamps, Concord, CA.
1daring jumping spider jrstamps34

Gary:
I shot these pictures of a spider having a yellow jacket for lunch on my hummingbird feeder. I am curious as to what kind of spider it is. It has a white spot on its head. I haven’t seen one like this before. Thanks.
Jay Stamps, Concord, California

jrstamps4:
It’s called a Daring Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax). They’re about a quarter to a half inch long. Very commonly found in backyards, gardens, on tree trunks, etc., throughout North America. You sometimes find them in your house. Dangerous to insects but harmless to humans. Jumping spiders get their name from the amazing leaps they make when chasing and grabbing insects. By the way, that white spot is actually on its abdomen, not its head. This spider can also be identified by its metallic green chelicerae — the two front appendages with the spider’s fangs on the ends that it uses to grab and hang on to its prey. Grrrr! /Gary

Daring Jumping Spider hanging onto wasp on hummingbird feeder. Note spider’s green metallic chelicerae with fangs (just below black eyes) that it is using to grasp the wasp. Photo by Jay Stamps, Concord, CA.
1daring jumping spider2 jrstamps34

Posted on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
Under: Spiders, Wasps | 2 Comments »

Mama wolf spiders carry their babies on their backs

Mama wolf spider with babies on her abdomen. Photo by Cynthia Tubbs, Pleasant Hill, CA.
wolf cynthia tubbs phill

Gary:
My friends and family didn’t believe me when I told them our giant (wolf?) spiders carry their babies on their backs. I first saw this several years ago, when I accidentally killed a large spider inside my home, and all these little spiders scattered off her back. Now this afternoon, I saw it again, and she was good enough to wait as I snapped a few photos! I can count 9 babies. Isn’t she lovely!!
Cynthia Tubbs, Pleasant Hill, CA

Cynthia:
Wolf spiders are among my favorite spiders. When I was in high school, I had a wolf spider I named “Harry” that lived under the dresser in my bedroom. About an inch long, these harmless (to people) spiders are handy to have around the house because they eat a lot of bugs they find there. They’re called wolf spiders because they roam around the house and countryside looking for prey to eat.

The female wolf spider spins her egg sac and carries it around with her until the baby spiders hatch from the eggs inside the sac. The babies climb up on mama’s back and ride around with her until they’re ready to take off on their own and tackle the big, wide world around them. Pretty neat. Looks to me like there may be more than 9 baby spiders on mama’s back in your photos. /Gary

Mama wolf spider with babies on her abdomen. Photo by Cynthia Tubbs, Pleasant Hill, CA.
wolf2 cynthia tubbs phill

Posted on Friday, October 22nd, 2010
Under: Spiders, Wolf spider | 2 Comments »

Tarantulas: It’s spider time on Mount Diablo

Tarantula on Mount Diablo. Photo by Ray Mengel, Bay Point, Ca.
tarantula ray mengel

Gary:
I thought you might be interested in a recent tarantula photo I took on Mount Diablo on October 1. Cheers.
Ray Mengel, Bay Point, CA

Hi Ray:
Always good to get one of your always beautiful tarantula photos from Mount Diablo.

For those of you who don’t know, this is the best time of year to see tarantulas in the wild and Mount Diablo is the BEST place to see one of these big, beautiful (and gentle!) spiders. Male tarantulas come out in the fall, in great numbers after the first fall rain, to search for female tarantulas. Lucky (??) males who find females will get a chance to breed before the big female spiders sometimes kill and eat them. Hey, it’s a tarantula thing.

Drive carefully when you go up the mountain to see them. There’s often a lot of those big spiders crawling across the road. When you stop to take a look, treat them gently. They’re actually quite fragile. Yes, they can bite, but it takes a lot to provoke them. The bite, I can tell you from first-hand experience, is about like a bee sting. Have fun! /Gary

Posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Under: Mount Diablo, Spiders, Tarantulas | 1 Comment »

Some spiders eat their old webs and spin them in a new spot

Orb weaver garden spider and web by Kathy Zach, Walnut Creek, CA
web, kathy zach, wc

Gary:
I happened to notice this large, tan, sort of furry spider hanging out in the center of his beautiful orb web yesterday.  So I snapped his photo which I am sending for you to see.  What is amazing is that when I woke up this morning to see him, there was nothing there.  Not one strand of web left behind.  Do spiders eat their webs when they move to a new place? I am glad I took this photo so I know I am not having a senior moment.
Kathy Zach, Walnut Creek, California

Kathy:
Some orb weaver garden spiders eat their webs. Spider web silk is made from protein. By eating the old webs, spiders can recycle the silk/protein and use it to make new webs. So in a sense, they can pick up (eat) their old webs and move (re-spin) them. Clever creatures, aren’t they? /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
Under: Spider web, Spiders | 2 Comments »

Tarantulas: pictures of young and an adult tarantulas

Baby tarantula photo by Connie Muir, Castro Valley, CA
baby tarantula, connie muir, c vly

Gary:
I took this pic in Castro Valley — unfortunately in my laundry room.  Many people who have seen the above picture argue that this is not a tarantula.  I have been told it is a wolf spider.  I know that the male tarantula comes out in the Fall looking for a mate.  I took this picture about two years ago around October.  Please settle this dispute once and for all.  I would like to think it is a Tarantula.
Connie Muir, Castro Valley, Calif.

Connie:
Your thinking is correct. The above photo is a young tarantula. The picture below is an adult tarantula. These are beautiful, gentle (unless you are a tasty insect) spiders. /Gary

Adult tarantula photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
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Posted on Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
Under: Spiders, Tarantulas | 2 Comments »

Spider web tent: Do spiders go camping?

Spider tent. Photo by Matty Kilpatrick, Walnut Creek, CA
spiders camping, matty kilpatrick, wc

Gary:
Thought you might enjoy this picture … do spiders go camping?!
Matty K., Walnut Creek

Matty:
Nice spider web tent! Too bad you didn’t get a picture of their little silk spider web sleeping bags (just kidding!). /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Under: Spider web, Spiders | No Comments »