Tag Archives: Spiders

Hawaiian garden spiders face off

Hawaiian garden spiders face offHawaiian garden spidersThis pair of Hawaiian garden spiders spent a long time facing off from different sides of the female spider’s web. The male is the smaller, drab spider, while the larger female has splashes of yellow, orange bands on her legs, and a bejeweled back, which can be seen here. The female spiders are much bigger than the males, though this female is not actually a particularly large one. Full-sized females dwarf their male counterparts.

I don’t know how this encounter turned out, but the previous day I did see another male on this web and it did not turn out well for him. I didn’t get good photos, but he appeared to be thoroughly enveloped in her ‘loving’ embrace.

When male garden spiders approach a female, they pluck the females web in a certain way to alert her to their presence. Typically, successful male garden spiders mate with a female and then die immediately afterwards. Sometimes the female will eat their male suitors. I’ve read than canny males will try to mate while the female is undergoing her final molt because during this process she will be immobile!

Crab spider webs

Crab spider webs

Crab spider webCrab spiders tend to proliferate in the fall and dwindle in the spring. That means winter is prime time for encountering lots of them, usually in the form of blundering into their webs. This is easy to do for two reasons.

One is that the webs can be large. While the circular centers aren’t that big, the anchoring strands often span 10 feet or more, and are hard to spot. The second reason is that crab spiders build connected webs, meaning there are often a dozen or more covering a large area.

Crab spiders will bite, usually after they’ve got caught in someone’s clothing. This is why, when I run into a web or webs, my first response is to locate the spider. If I find it on a remnant of its web, I don’t worry too much. If I don’t see it, then I usually do my flailing crab spider dance, which serves no useful purpose other than to likely irritate the spider if it is on my person.

On the plus side, crab spider webs, like most webs, are quite beautiful when they catch the sunlight.

The next generation of Hawaiian garden spiders

Hawaiian Garden Spider and prey

I posted a few weeks ago here about a large female Hawaiian garden spider which had spun a web in a place I often visit. A week or so later, that spider had disappeared.

Now, in that spot, three new webs have appeared, each occupied by female Hawaiian garden spiders. However, these new occupants are much smaller, about the same size as the average male of the species. I think it’s likely they’re the offspring of the first spider I saw there.

The smallness of the new spiders can be seen in the size of the prey this one had caught – a little ladybird.

 

Four views of a Hawaiian garden spider

Hawaiian Garden Spider female underside

Hawaiian Garden Spider female top viewThis rather large female Hawaiian garden spider (Argiope appensa) had spun a web in a place where I was able to gain decent access to it, so I decided to take photos from front and back and both sides.

The top pose is the one I see most often, with the spider perched on the underside of her web. The back view is the most striking, with its jewel-like top side of the abdomen. The two side views show how gently the spider sits on her nest.

A couple of days later, I saw this same spider on her web with the jeweled back catching the sun. I must have got a bit too close because in an instant the spider was on the other side of the web, underside toward me. I’m still not certain how she made such an instantaneous transition, whether it was through a hole in the web or zipping around the edge, but it was faster than my eye could record.

Hawaiian Garden Spider sideviewHawaiian Garden Spider female side view

 

Teamwork

Ants and a spider

I noticed this spider moving across a dirt road in a most peculiar way. A closer look showed the reason why. This group of ants was taking it home, but not in a warm and fuzzy kind of way.

The ants were moving at a pretty good speed, which was impressive considering there were several of them involved and all pointing in different directions. After a few moments, they scuttled over the side of a rock and out of sight.

The victim looks like some kind of jumping spider.

Lesser grass blue butterflies

Lesser grass blue butterflies

Lesser grass blue butterflies and a spiderThe lesser grass blue butterfly (Zizina otis) was first seen in Hawaii on Oahu in 2008 (for an article, or most of an article, about the find, click here). They’re now well established on the Big Island as well.

Lesser grass blues are very small, with a wingspan no more than ¾-inch. With wings folded up they’re the size of a small fingernail. They also fly close to the ground, within a foot or two.

Lately, I’ve been seeing them in large numbers on these blue heliotrope (Heliotropium amplexicaule) flowers. When I say ‘seeing them,’ what I mean is that when I walk past a patch of these flowers, a host of lesser grass blues will flutter up from the flowers, dance around in a tizzy for a few moments, and then settle back down again. When they do this, it’s like blue confetti being thrown (a few inches) into the air.

I’ve tried to capture this image with my camera, but haven’t been able to (and I’ve taken LOTS of photos). The butterflies are so small, I’m tall, and the effect is fleeting. But the top photo gives an idea of what’s going on, with three lesser grass blues homing in on the small blue heliotrope flowers while a fourth has already found a spot.

It wasn’t until I processed the photos at home that I noticed the spider in the photo at right. I don’t know what it made of all the butterfly activity. I hope they weren’t its prey.