Orb Web Spiders: Morning Weaving at the Highland Center

Garden orb web spider at the Highland Center
Photo credit: Whitney McCann
The Garden Orb Web spider, Eriophora transmarina


From a perch, the orb web spider casts a dry silk thread from its spinneret, which the wind carries to a nearby surface. This thread is like a tightrope between two buildings and will be strong enough to support the rest of the web.  The spider strengthens it with a second thread, then another; it then travels south to create a Y-shape, the first of the web's spokes or radials, each proportional to the size of the spider and its web. With the spokes complete, the spider returns to the center of its web and begins to trail a sticky thread in an outward circle until the web is complete.




Close up of the garden orb web spider
Photo credit: Whitney McCann
The spider then waits at the edge of its web for something to stick.  What sticks?  "Flies, bugs, grasshoppers, choice beetles, moths, butterflies, tasty cockroaches, gnats, midges, daddy long-legs, centipedes, mosquitoes, crickets..." E.B. White's Charlotte us.  And that fly ensnared in Charlotte's web?

"'First, I dive at him.'
'Next, I wrap him up.'
'Now I knock him out, so he'll be more comfortable.'
'He can't feel a thing now,' she remarked.  'He'll make a perfect breakfast for me.'"