Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Some Wildlife Favorites

In honor of National Wildlife Week, I wanted to post photos of some of my favorite wildlife.  Maybe not EVERYbody's favorites, though!  Furry mammals and pretty birds and colorful butterflies are easy to love, but I have a special fondness for spiders.  I've combed through my photo files and come up with a few I especially love.

First, we have the crab spiders, which spin no webs to capture their prey.  Rather, they lurk among the flowers, waiting for pollinators to land, when they pounce and paralyze their prey, then suck their prey's juices out.

The Goldenrod Crab Spider can change its color to match the color of the flower it's hiding in.  This yellow one with its jaws in the neck of a Pearl Crescent Butterfly must have recently arrived in this Boneset bloom and had not yet had time to change from yellow to white.

Here's one that has matched its colors to those of the pink-and-white Spreading Dogbane blooms.

This is the White-banded Crab Spider, which looks quite a bit like the Goldenrod Crab Spider, except for the white stripes across its face.  It lurks in similar flowers and captures its prey the same way.

Here's a baby crab spider, very tiny and as fuzzy as a new puppy!

Next, we have some orb weavers, all of which spin the kind of disk-shaped webs we associate with spiders, in which flying insects become trapped in the sticky filaments, after which the spider wraps them tightly in silk to save them for supper.

This is the Marbled Orbweaver, with its beautifully patterned abdomen and tiger-striped legs.  Very colorful!

Here's a Long-jawed Orbweaver, which has a habit of stretching out its long legs fore and aft.

The Hump-backed Orbweaver does look like a hunchback, with its sharply angled carapace.  I love the gray-green color of this spider, patterned with black.  Very pretty.

Here are two big beautiful spiders, the Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia) and the Banded Garden Spider (Argiope trifasciata), both of which are remarkable for their size and bright coloration. The web of A. aurantia is notable for the zig-zag pattern woven into the filaments.

Those Garden Spiders are pretty big, but they have nothing on this Fishing Spider when it comes to size.  These are truly gigantic, the larger females as much as three inches across.  I usually see them clinging to the sides of boulders that hang over the water, but this one was perched atop a Joe-Pye Weed bloom, waiting to dive into the creek and capture a small fish.  Imagine that!  A spider that can capture a fish!

Oh, how I wish I had more photos of Jumping Spiders, dear little creatures with four pairs of shiny black eyes, including one big pair that looks straight back at you.  Most are small, some are quite hairy, and all are really cute.  But boy, do they move fast!  Very hard to take photos of.  I did manage to capture a photo of this female Whitman's Jumping Spider before she leapt away in a flash.  I hope someday I may see her mate, for the males are quite colorful, with bright-red head and abdomen.


Uta said...

Your pictures are just wonderful, as a Master Gardener I especially
enjoy them.

The Furry Gnome said...

You sure do know your spiders! I really must start paying more attention to those little critters, and all insects for that matter.

Woody Meristem said...

Excellent photos; most people think they're yucky -- but as you have shown, they're beautiful and interesting creatures.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thank you, Uta, Furry, and Woody, for your appreciative comments. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing my eight-legged friends.

Don Butler said...

can you recommend a field guide for spiders?