Alpine Lady

Honoring the natural world through prose, poetry, music, sounds, photographs and musings.


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Journey of the Spiral Weaver

Spiders are extremely beneficial and along with bats make a significant dent in the population of destructive and disease-producing insects. Estimates are that each spider eats about 2000 insects per year and even though there are approximately 45,000 species, only a few spiders are poisonous to humans. The Araneus diadematus or Cross Orbweaver, a fairly common northern spider, rarely if ever, bites and is quite clean, consuming her web just about every night and weaving a new one by morning. She prefers staying outdoors and the only residue you are likely to find will be the blackened and digested insect bodies on the ground below her web.

Araneus diadematus,

A lovely, graceful arachnid

Known as the Cross Orbweaver.

Cross Orbweaver

Cross Orbweaver

Not “cross” as in agitated

But “cross” as in a pattern:

White splotches like inclusions of white quartz

In a piece of butterscotch agate.

Neatly forming a cross on her bulbous back.

Adult Female Cross Orbweaver

Adult female Cross Orbweaver.

She, larger than he,

Is hungry for fly protein;

While he, for nectar, pollen,

And sex.

She weaves incredibly strong traps

Strung amongst diverse flyways

To snare unsuspecting insects

As they flit, fly and flutter by,

Snagging mosquitoes and wasps

Drawn to the backyard barbecue,

And snaring night-flying moths

Searching for plants to lay in their eggs,

Or beckoned by the porch lights.

First spiral spider orbs of spring '14 on pasture fence; the dampness of the web is highlighted as a rainbow of shimmer.

First spiral spider orb of spring ’14 on pasture fence; the dampness of the web is highlighted as a rainbow of shimmer.

Spider spins the victim

Shrouding black and yellow wasps in silk,

Spreading thick digestive juices

Softening the insect-style burrito,

Sucking in its health to feed

Countless generations of lives

Within her body;  yet to be conceived,

But seated, waiting.

Cross Orbweaver sucking on wasp body.

Cross Orbweaver sucking on wasp body.

From dawn to dusk and round again,

Building, tending, shrouding, ingesting.

If zeroed out, she’ll eat her web

And survive on minuscule pollen grains

Stuck tight to her orbicular weavings.

Cross Orbweaver ingesting old web before weaving new one.

Cross Orbweaver ingesting old web before weaving new one.

She’ll continue to grow plump into the autumn,

Shedding multiple outer skins

While holding future lives,

Within eggs to be laid in golden sacs

Orbweaver cocoon filled with hundreds of eggs.

Orbweaver cocoon filled with hundreds of eggs.

Hatched and clustered,

Awaiting the next springtime’s zephyrs to tease

Slender ballooning silks aloft

Taking the spiderlings on a journey

Along their own spiral weaves.

Cluster of Cross Orbweaver spiderlings, mid-may hatching.

Cluster of Cross Orbweaver spiderlings, mid-May hatching.

 

Please make room in your lives for a few Cross Orbweavers. Approach gently with good intentions and they’ll accept you in to watch their lives unfold in the most intimate of ways. Until our next journey, take care.