Photographing a Cross Orbweaver spider

My love of insects on this blog continues. But we’re going to take a break from moths today.

One of my friends needed some help moving a refrigerator and while doing so we found this Cross Orbweaver spider (Araneus diadematus) hanging in a web off the front of a house.  The photos included in this post don’t really do this spider’s size too much justice, but for Pennsylvania this is a fairly big spider.

This Cross Orbweaver spider was energetic, so getting a really good shot of it proved to be a pretty big challenge.  With the help of two friends; one manning a stick to move the spider around, while the other handed me lenses on-demand, I was able to get about 6 quality shots of this spider. I’ve included two of them here.

This appears to be a female Cross Orbweaver spider.  They range from 6 to 15mm in length, and live in many areas of the United States and Canada.  From what I’ve researched they enjoy creating their webs on structures like homes and really like to be under unnatural lighting to catch their prey.  This one proved that theory by being attached to the front of a house near a porch light.

The silk that this spider weaves is unique. It is extremely sticky when touched, almost like hot taffy, and is very strong and light.  When we were moving the spider from the ground to the fence, or just suspending him in the air, he’d shoot out his silk in such a way that many different strands would float into the air and he was able to keep himself afloat this way.  It was amazing.

The web that they weave, which you can read about and see on [this site]( Orb-weaver.htm), is very sporadic and random in its design.  I’m looking forward to doing some research on how and why they spin these types of webs when I get a few minutes to do so.


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