Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Miz Athena, She's Shy

     I was excited yesterday morning -- I got home about 11:45, having worked an early shift, and by chance, discovered another Spiny Micrathena spider in her web in the back yard.

     The earlier one had departed a few days ago.  Micrathena is a bit of a vagabond, casting their nets in the same place for a just little while before moving on.  It's not as much a burden as you might expect: these spiders take their web down every day and spin a new one.  Considering that the largest spider of this family I have yet seen was no more than three-eighths of an inch across at full extension and their yard-wide webs hang from silk cables six feet or more from anchor to anchor, this a remarkable level of industry.

     The new spider was lighter than the previous one and had a larger spiny "crown."  She was busy preparing a housefly for lunch -- yay, spider! -- as I came close to photograph her with my smartphone.  It was difficult to get it to focus and she stopped work a couple of times, obviously aware of something huge looming close.

     Tam returned from the range about a half-hour later and we left for lunch soon after.  Remembering the spider, I went to point it out and--  Nothing.  No spider.  No web.  Not a sign to show the spider was ever there.

     The Spiny Micrathena does not care for publicity.

     All I have are a few blurry cellphone pictures.  If any of them are worth sharing, I'll post them here.  Pretty blurry. Here's the best:
     For scale, that's an ordinary housefly.  She's not much larger.

    The spider's upside down from this angle, so her "crown" is behind her.  You can just see the careful netting of her web at the edges of the photo.

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