I know what you’re thinking, I’ve lost my mind. Well, maybe, but after a naturalist workshop about Spiders, I have a renewed appreciation for these little creatures. I’m not sure I want to hang out with them or have them crawling on me, but when observed on my terms, they’re really interesting.
There are several types of webs that one should know about that often play a role in the spider name.
- orb web – concentric rings connected by spokes like you see in the photo of the Spiny Orbweaver designed to capture flying insects.
- cobweb – just random silk-like strands that have no pattern
- Filmy sheet web – these are your domes and funnels designed to catch crawling insects
Take this Spiny-backed Orb Weaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis); would you even guess this was a spider? They create an orb shaped web and wait for their prey to fly by and get caught in the web just like when we walk through one on a hike in the woods.
Check out this Triangulate orbweaver (Verrucosa arenata). It’s so colorful with the bright yellow “arrowhead” shaped pattern on its back which is why it’s also called the Arrowhead orbweaver.
We see these spiders all over and they have a name that’s easy to remember due to the shape of their web, funnel weaver.
This one was so named due to it’s crab-like appearance. And it can change colors to match the flowers it’s hanging out on. They use those giant crab like legs to catch food. So gorgeous and dainty, not what you would expect for describing a spider.
And then there’s the famous Burrowing Wolf Spider (Geolycosa missouriensis) that makes it’s home in the ground. Ever seen these holes when you’re walking around your yard? One of my workshop colleagues coaxed this guy out of his nest with a pine needle. Now that’s pretty awesome don’t you think?! They are sensitive to vibrations above their burrows, which can be up to 12″ deep, and capture insects passing over the entrance. If you look closely you can see those eyes.
Okay, just a bit more but you gotta see this one. They build these upside down bowls or inverted domes as their home so they are called Bowl and Doily Weavers (Frontinella communis).
And last but not least, there’s this little jumper, the Red Jumping Spider, that builds funnel-like webs and often leaps quite a distance to catch it’s prey. Gotta love this fuzzy little fella!
So, now you too can appreciate the beauty of a spider. And these are only a tiny number, there are over 40,000 known species worldwide. And, just in case, you do know that spiders are NOT insects right? Nope, they are their own category, Arachnids!