Tag Archives: Spiders

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.

Spiders and stick insect

A Hawaiian garden spider and a stick insect snared in its nest
A tiny spider on a stick insect snared by a Hawaiian garden spider

Outside my bathroom window, a colony of crab spiders has created a vast network of webs between the house and utility lines. The image (bottom photo) would have been a good one for Halloween.

In amongst the crab spiders, a female Hawaiian garden spider has staked out a spot. It’s close to the window and I get a good view of what she’s up to. Usually there are one or two little cocoons of white webbing where she has captured and stashed a wee bug for later.

On this morning I glanced outside and saw a large brown shape stuck in the web and lightly wrapped in white. So I went outside and took the top photo of the unfortunate victim. When I looked at it, I realized the garden spider wasn’t the only one in the photo. I noticed a much smaller spider on the stick insect. So I went out again and took the second photo.

I don’t know what kind of spider it is, but I liked its shiny metallic abdomen. I assume that spider was in the process of snagging itself a free meal. The garden spider didn’t seen too bothered, I presume because she figured such a small spider wasn’t going to deplete her larder very much.

Spider webs on utility lines

Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.

The current Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Close ups and Macros.’ See more responses here. Here’s a selection of some little creatures up close and personal.

Bugs

A Bee on a Maiapilo flower

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Summer Bugs.’ (See more responses here.) To the best of my knowledge, Hawaii’s bugs are pretty much the same year-round. Here are some of them.

The top photo shows a bee showing impressive balance on a maiapilo flower.

Next up, clockwise from top left: Getting down to eye level with a juvenile praying mantis. A painted lady butterfly on a kiawe tree. A katydid wondering what it’s done to deserve this much attention. A seven-spotted lady beetle being watched.

The final gallery: Top left: A mango flower beetle explores a spider lily. Top right: A watchful cane spider wondering if it should run, very fast, away. Bottom left: A Hawaiian carpenter ant (Camponotus variegatus), one of too many that have taken up residence in the house. Bottom right: A rusty millipede deciding that it’s all too much!

A rainy day in North Kohala

A rainy day at Upolu Airport, Hawaii
A crab spider web in the rain

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Rainy Day.’ See more responses here.

I had just finished my walk around Upolu Airport when the weather closed in. Usually, clouds and rain are blown in by the northeast trade winds, but on this day a system was moving in from the west. I’d been watching its progress as I walked, but still got caught out as it moved faster than I expected. Still, I did make it back to the car, waiting for me in the wet parking lot, before the next deluge arrived (top photo).

The crab spiders didn’t seem to mind the weather, and the raindrops made a picture of their webs (middle photo). It also made them easier to see so that I could avoid my usual trick of blundering into them and having webs wrapped around my head.

On the drive home, after my walk, I carved an avenue of spray as I motored along the puddled road (bottom photo).

A rainy day in North Kohala, Hawaii

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.