Guess who’s coming to dinner?

A male and female Hawaiian Garden Spider and a beetle snared in the web

My house has been surrounded by spiders and their webs for most of the winter. One female Hawaiian Garden Spider has a web which angles across the living room window. I can follow the activities there from the comfort of the couch.

One morning, I raised the window blind and found this scene. The large, yellow-backed spider is the female. The much smaller drab, brown spider above her is the male, and when a male is seen on a female’s web there’s only one reason – he’s looking to mate with her. I’m not sure what the third character in this scene is. It might be a mango beetle, but it was securely trussed to the web.

What happened can be seen in the gallery. The male tried his mating moves, the female remained largely unmoved. Much of the time the male stayed on the relatively safe opposite side of the web to the female, but to mate he must venture to the other side. When he did, sometimes the female swung into action. Mostly, she seemed responsive, but one time the male disappeared in an instant. Then I saw him climbing back up the thread he’d dropped on. Something must have gone awry, but no harm done. Through all this activity, the beetle looked on, waving its little legs and antennae.

The presence of the beetle seemed to affect the delicate negotiations going on between the spiders. Sometimes, the male went over to the beetle and sort of prodded at it, but nothing more. In the early evening, the female lost patience. She straddled the beetle, shot out strands of threads, and rebound the beetle as she spun it with her legs. It turned like a rotisserie chicken in overdrive. I didn’t get photos of this as the light was fading.

Next morning, nothing much had changed. The female was still the central figure, the male still holding his position. The only difference is that the beetle had managed to push its legs and head through the engulfing threads and it was back to waving its little legs and antennae. Later that day, the male appeared to successfully mate with the female and escape alive. I last saw him wandering over to the next web along where he positioned himself carefully on the opposite side of the web spun by another large female.

The next day, there was still a female on the web but I think it was a different, smaller one than the one in these photos. The beetle was still there, still waving its little legs and antennae. That evening, the new female did the rotisserie chicken move on the beetle and retrussed it. Next morning, the beetle had freed its legs and head again and was waving its legs and antennae again.

The following day, only the new female spider could be seen!

Posted in response to this month’s Becky’s Squares challenge theme of ‘Odd.’ See more responses here.

20 thoughts on “Guess who’s coming to dinner?

  1. bushboy

    A great story well written Graham. That spider is similar to our St Andrews Cross spider. I am glad the male didn’t end up as lunch. The tenacity of the beetle is to be commended 🙂

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    1. Graham Post author

      I felt sorry for the beetle. All the time, I just imagined it waving its little legs and saying ‘Help me!’ I think the spider was surprised by how resilient it was.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Terri Webster Schrandt

    Odd indeed, Graham, but spectacular captures of nature at work. How cool to see this unfold in your window. Glad to know at least one of the critters escaped the odd fate. Poor beetle. Just think, when Ma lays her eggs, you will have more babies to watch!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Graham Post author

      It was a fascinating tableau for a couple of days, mostly a still life, but with bursts of action. I did feel sorry for the beetle, but nature is not as fuzzy and warm as we sometimes like to think it is. I’m not sure we need more spiders around the house. A couple of times, when I’ve left the house early, I’ve become snared in webs spun across the steps!

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        1. Graham Post author

          Tell me about it. I had to take down a bunch of crab spider webs because they were building them across the steps into the house on on the lanais. I often leave the house in the morning when it’s still dark and a few times I blundered into them!

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