Spider Saturday: Garden Orb Weaver

I photogged this spider in Nicaragua last December. This golden orb weaver would set up its 4 to 5-foot wide web every evening and take it down every morning. When I first discovered  it, sitting in its web waiting for prey, I was just on my way to my tent to call it a night.  I had spent the previous three hours photographing insects and spiders in the Apoyo Lagoon Biological Reserve.  When I spotted the spider, just a foot or two from the path, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to photograph it, despite how tired I was.  As with most creatures that pause what they’re doing to allow me to photograph them, this spider was thoroughly documented  from every angle.  The photograph below is from the side of the web looking across to the other side (behind the spider and to the left).

Garden Orb Weaver

Garden Orb Weaver (family Araneidae)

The most difficult shot was photographing its ventral view, which required me to climb underneath the deck of a building, careful not to disturb the web and keep a look out for other creatures of the night. I was lucky enough to be around when a moth flew into its web, which caused the spider to take immediate action. In just a few seconds, the moth was tightly wrapped with web and the spider started injecting it with venom, which is designed to liquefy the moth into smaller bite-sized portions for the arachnid. I have a few photos of this spider - as well as its moth meal - in my new book, Insects & Spiders of Nicaragua, available to order now.

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    I love orb weavers! I have dozens of L. Cornutus living around my house in the warmer months - they love to build their webs over the corner of the sliding deck door each night (under the flood light). I also get the Argiope trifasciata wherever I have a clump of ornamental grasses (and even had one in my tomato plants two years ago).

    Fantastic photo!

    PS - I've also added you to my blogroll. It's so hard to find good bug blogs these days.
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