Caught Up in Her Work

Orchard Orb-Weaver (Leucauge venusta)


Even people who fear or dislike spiders often admire the beauty of their dew-covered webs. For the spiders themselves, the web’s purpose is more practical than aesthetic — a way of sensing predators, or catching dinner — but it’s fun to imagine them stopping to admire their handiwork from time to time. 

Finding a web isn’t difficult, but surprising a spider in the process of building or repairing a web is less common. On a late, cloudy afternoon, this colorful orb-weaver was putting her practical skills to use in an especially pleasing way.


Comments always are welcome.

70 thoughts on “Caught Up in Her Work

    1. That’s so amazing to me. It’s even more amazing that there are experts who can recognize the presence of a given spider species just by the form of the web.

    1. And just think: she doesn’t even need one of those ghastly, poorly-written, multi-lingual instruction booklets that leaves out several steps and refers to parts that aren’t included in the box.

    1. If it hadn’t been for the colors, I almost certainly wouldn’t have seen it. They’re quite small, and build horizontal webs nearer the ground. Most of the orb weavers I notice are the large species that like to build their webs across trails and such. There’s nothing pleasant about a faceful of web — for us or for the spider who has to rebuild it.

    1. They are quite colorful, and apparently their colors can vary from species to species: the combinations of blue, emerald green, orange-red, and black are quite striking. They certainly can shimmer in the sunlight.

  1. You know, it’s amazing to me that spiders spin their webs without a single iota of instruction — whereas we web designers have to study many long hours to do what we do (and lifelong learning is definitely part of that!). Beautiful photo!

    1. It occurs to me that there’s one similarity between you as web-designer and spiders as web-weavers: you’re both constantly re-building your webs. The spiders do it as a matter of course, while you end up doing it for problem-solving and other reasons, but it’s still an interesting coincidence. And for those of us who get caught up in the cyber-webs from time to time, it can be just as unpleasant as it is for the creatures who fly into the spiders’ webs!

    1. I’ve been seeing fewer crab spiders than usual, but the green lynx spiders seem to be everywhere. On the boats, I’m constantly scaring up the little black and white jumping spiders; at least they don’t scare me any more.

  2. It’s an amazing photograph, Linda. One can take another 100 spider photos and not capture this moment. I find that it takes skill and patience to take the shot but timing is providential. Thanks for sharing your catch.

    1. I didn’t know what I had until I looked at my photos on the computer. I’d taken forty or so, but only in one did I manage to capture this wonderful detail. In truth, spotting the spider was as providential as the shot. I happened to glance at the tangled brush I’d parked next to as I was preparing to leave, and the spider’s colors caught my eye. When that happens, I always take a second look. It may be nothing, or it may be a something like this.

    1. Thanks so much, Becky. I used to be one of those “see spider, kill spider” sorts, but I’ve gotten over that. Learning about their variety, their habits, and their beauty has helped considerably.

    1. I couldn’t find any information about the red spot’s purpose, but it makes sense that it might be meant as a warning to predators. It’s on the underside of the abdomen, but this spider tends to hang on the underside of its web, with the red spot facing upwards.

      That’s a fun observation about the title. I’d thought only of the spider being ‘captured’ by her work in the same sense that her prey would be captured in her web.

  3. As you say, spider webs are a source of wonderment, and on a dew-covered morning to see many webs glistening in the sunlight, is a joy to behold – and how hummingbirds would build their nests without them nobody knows!

    1. I didn’t know until recently that spider silk not only helps secure hummingbird nests, it also allows the nest to stretch as the babies grow: there’s always a new amazement. Once again, the interdependence of nature is made clear — thanks for reminding me of it!

    1. They sure are. This little gem is quite common in Florida, and I found this article about it. It no doubt has more information than you need or want, but if you scroll down halfway or more, there’s a neat section about exactly how they build their webs — step by step.

  4. A remarkable capture, Linda! I haven’t seen as many spiders this year, for whatever reason. You really were able to see her from an interesting perspective. She’s gorgeous!

    1. It’s ever so much nicer to see a web from a distance, rather than walking straight into it! This is the best view of an orchard orb-weaver I’ve ever gotten. They’re tiny, and their propensity to lurk on the underside of their webs can make things difficult.They are pretty, though, and that silvery patch is quite reflective. It really can shine when the sun catches it.

    1. I don’t mind the little ones that live in window corners, especially when I find a few dead mosquitoes around. The big ones get transported outdoors, where they belong. I might let this pretty one stay, but now that I think about it, I don’t remember ever seeing an orb-weaver inside a structure.

  5. A spider with a red patch when found here in Australia would make people go for a run. They are poisonous. The much feared redback spider with folklore having elevated the myth that they are fond of nesting underneath toilet seats.
    The making of webs is an amazing feat of their skills and handiwork.

    With morning’s mist a dewy beauty.

    1. I read that some people confuse this spider with our black widow, which is related to your redback spider. I’m not sure how that could happen, given that the black widow is black and not beautifully colored, but I suppose if “red” sticks in the mind as a sign of danger, someone might confuse them. If the orchard spider’s predators have the same response to that patch of red, the color’s done its work: at least, for the spider.

  6. Beautiful webs they might spin, especially when the morning dew casts droplets across it, but I still dislike spiders near me, especially in the bedroom.

    Nice shot, Linda.

    1. Spiders, bats, snakes… they all have their purpose, and some are quite beautiful, but our ambivalence sometimes seems as instinctual as the spiders’ ability to weave their webs. Speaking of dewy webs, I learned while I was reading about orb weavers that some photographers carry a spray bottle of water, and create artificial dew for their photo sessions. I’m not sure how I feel about that, either.

      1. LOL
        I carried a small spray bottle when I started out doing flower photography back in 2010, but that was then. Today, I’d be horrified to even think of carrying that tiny plastic bottle outdoors.

  7. What a lovely spider…you won’t hear that often. And it is framed in a lovely image too. Orb weavers are amazing with many taking down their webs in the morning and rebuilding them identically at night. And the webbing is surprisingly strong, capturing and holding sometimes insects much larger than the spider. Amazing creatures.

    1. I’ve known that hummingbirds use spider silk for nest-building, but I recently learned the silk gives those birds another advantage. The silk is flexible and strong enough that as the baby hummingbirds grow in the nest, the nest can expand. As for working the night shift, I also read that this species does most of its web-building at night. I’m glad this one was a little off-schedule.

  8. You are cultivating quite a talent for being in the right place at the right time with the right F-stop. Contrary child that I am, I always felt that the Greeks got it wrong, and that it was her skill at tatting, not at weaving, that Arachne was so proud of when she got crossways with Athena.

    1. I don’t know if it’s talent, or just as much exploration and experimentation as I can manage. There’s no question that a little luck’s involved. I often come home, look at an image on the computer screen, and say, “Well, lookie there.”

      Your comment about tatting got me thinking; I wondered if there was any etymological connection between ‘tatting’ and ‘tatty.’ In short, no — but I did learn that the French word for tatting is frivolité.

    1. It’s interesting how everything cycles, isn’t it? Flowers, insects, birds — they come and they go, and no year is exactly the same as the ones previous. It can be a little disconcerting — but it certainly adds interest!

  9. First time I ever saw an orb weaver was when we moved to Texas. I am not a fan of spiders but it was fascinating to watch.

    1. There’s something about their work that does draw us into those webs, isn’t there? Quite apart from their skill, their patience and attention to detail is amazing. Of course it’s instinct, but that’s amazing, too!

  10. I am completely amazed at how quickly spiders work. Witness the cobwebs that magically appear in any corner or between a tree and a bush. They are indeed beautiful, that’s for sure.

    1. Did you know that some spiders tear down their webs each day, and rebuild them overnight? Some will eat the silk, too; I’ve read that’s both for general nourishment and to help replenish their supply. They certainly are amazing creatures, and the more I learn about them, the more attractive they seem. (Well, most of them, anyway…)

    1. From what I’ve been able to glean from our ‘web,’ this one’s red patches aren’t exactly hourglass in shape, but what predator’s going to stick around to find out? Apparently the female’s patch is more crescent shaped, while the male has a red band on his abdomen. The combination of colors certainly is beautiful.

    1. I recently discovered that the spiny orb weavers build at the height of human faces, too. This species prefers to stay low, building horizontal or tipped webs nearer the ground. In fact, this one was only three or four feet off the ground, and I was lucky even to see it.

    1. I’m so pleased with this photo. Her colors caught my eye first, but this view of her at work is really something. This is reason # whatever that I no longer delete any photo until it’s been seen on the computer. In the camera, the detail wasn’t nearly so obvious. She is a plucky little thing, isn’t she?

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