Category Archives: Spiders

Spiderlings and Slow Worm

Another garden post, but not for those who don’t like spiders (or even baby spiderlings). This seems to be the time of year when the common garden spider babies are making their presence known. A host of them have appeared scattered across the garden hedge, in small balls hidden in fine webbing.

spiderlings

The clumps are varied in size, but all of them are home to a thousand eyes and at least a thousand legs. 😉 These (or a small number them) will grow into the common garden spider (Araneus diadematus), the female of which is the large orb spider often seen sitting in a large classic web during the autumn months. In the galleries there’s a short sequence of their mating ritual.

spiderling

spiderling

spiderling

If spiders aren’t your thing, I suspect legless lizards (aka the slow worm) aren’t going to be either. But I could be wrong. This beauty was crawling across the patio yesterday afternoon.

Slow worm with tongue flicking out

Slow worm with tongue flicking out

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 7D and EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens, apart from the first photo which was taken with the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM IS lens.

Also posted in Behaviour, slow worm Tagged , |

Spiderlings on the March

We didn’t have to look far for the highlight of the day. The handle to our back door has been sequestered by a horde of spiderlings.

Spiderlings

I think these are the common garden spider (Araneus diadematus). They are tiny and were packed together in a tight group, resembling something akin to a hairy caterpillar. Periodically they would collectively wake up and stretch their many legs, before regrouping in the shelter of the door handle supported by a fine mesh of barely visible webbing.

Spiderlings

We left them there during the day while we got on with more tidying up, which is when I discovered a fine slow worm dozing under a discarded roof tile.

Slow worm

Slow worm

Slow worm

Overhead, starlings were taking their young for flying lessons. Numerous small groups flew over with the adult taking the lead. Later in the afternoon a small number of swifts circled high above the garden, too distant for any usable images.

We’d been keeping an eye on the spiderlings throughout the day, but nothing much happened until this evening. Tonight they went on a long march! All the way up to the guttering on the roof. It was touch surreal to watch the line of spiderlings seemingly ascending in mid-air (the webbing is very fine); but it was a very disciplined and orderly exodus and means we have the use door handle again.

Spiderlings

Spiderlings

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 7D and EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens.

Also posted in slow worm, Wildlife Tagged , |

The Garden Spider

The common garden spider (Araneus diadematus) is one of the most familiar sights in our gardens as we move into autumn. These are the spiders that weave perfectly symmetrical webs, throw long guy-lines across paths, and sit patiently waiting for their prey. The large bulbous spiders are the females.

Common garden spider (Araneus diadematus)

They catch their prey in the web, but that’s only the first part of the process. Before they can feed they need to immobilise the victim with a bite, and then encase it in webbing. This greedy female has captured a wasp (to the left) and what looks like a grasshopper, though it’s hard to identify in this state.

Common garden spider (Araneus diadematus), with  prey

Common garden spider (Araneus diadematus), with  prey

It’s fascinating to watch a spider at work. The initial encounter is usually quite frought, especially if the prey is large or dangerous. The spider takes great care in its approach to avoiding flailing wings or stings. Once the prey is pacified, it gets to work quickly, wrapping the prey into a silky cocoon. It will often then leave the prey hanging, before going back later to feed. The final shot shows a spider with an encased moth which it had caught some hours earlier.

Common garden spider (Araneus diadematus), with  prey

Camera note: all shots taken with the Canon 7D and EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens.

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