alithographica: Reminder that spiders are comp…


Reminder that spiders are complex and cool, even if you don’t want them near you.

(You should also google stabilimentum designs. They’re pretty wild.)

Transcript below the cut.

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These are great drawings of the different types of spider webs! I’ve been lucky enough to see lots of exciting webs when I’ve been out running around outside. Here are some real life examples of the webs described above

Orb Webs

Some orb webs are your standard issue circles on spokes designs. Above left: spinybacked orbweaver in the process of making her web. Above right: Orchard orbweaver hanging out in the center of her web. 

Some orb weavers like to add a little spice to their webs. These are examples of circular stabilimentum. The stabilimentum can be large or small! Above left: featherlegged orbweaver Above right: lined orbweaver.

Probably the most noted examples of stabilimentum are made by garden spiders in the Argiope genus. Both photos above are of the yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia). Left: adult with the typical zig-zag pattern. Right: juvenile with the semi-circular/linear combo pattern.

And before you start thinking that all orbweavers make flat webs, let me introduce you to the basilica orbweaver, who makes my absolute favorite web ever. It’s so complex, it’s hard to even photograph it in a way that does it justice. The “orb” part of the web is a cross-hatched dome, which occupies the center of a hour-glass shaped cobweb-like tangle. When the female lays an egg, she will suspend it from a “tightrope” line that goes across the hourglass, above the top of the web dome. The eggs are placed on this line above the peak of the dome. When Hurricane Harvey came through last year, it destroyed this beautiful web 🙁 BUT that little tightrope with the egg? It’s still there over a year later. Spider silk is STRONG!

Funnel Webs

So beautiful! I don’t know if I’ve ever actually seen the spider who makes these, so I don’t really have much else to contribute. These are beautiful works of art.

Cob/Tangle Webs

It can be pretty hard to photograph cobwebs, because they are so “messy.” Lots of very interesting spiders make cobwebs. You are familiar with the widow spiders, but there are lots of other great cobweb spiders, too! Some of my favorites are the kleptoparasites (top left is a Neospintharus sp.). These tiny spiders will hang out in the webs of other spiders, and steal the smaller bugs that end up caught in the web. I found them in the basilica orbweaver web, and in the black window web I had. I don’t have IDs for the other two spiders (center and right).

Sheet Webs

I don’t have an ID for this web either, but sheet webs are made by spiders in the same superfamily as wolf spiders. The wolf spiders I’ve typically seen are happy enough running around, except, this one:

This is a wolf spider, in a tunnel web. I suppose you could argue that a tunnel is just a sheet web rolled up. When I touched the web on the edge of the tunnel, the spider would pop out like this until she caught on that we weren’t food.

You may be thinking, wait, isn’t that a trapdoor spider? Nope! She’s a wolf spider, for sure. Her eye pattern matches wolf spiders. And trapdoor spiders aren’t even in the same suborder as wolf spiders and other “true spiders.” Trapdoor spiders are in the suborder Mygalomorphae. Which brings me to…

Not Really Webs but Still Neat and Worth Mentioning

All the other webs in this post were photographed in Texas. This is the exception. I found this empty trapdoor-lair outside my cabin in Liwonde National Park in Malawi. Other spiders in this suborder include tarantulas–which I have seen in Texas. We do have trapdoor spiders here, but I’ve never been lucky enough to see one.


Also not a “web” but I love these. This is a longlegged sac spider (genus Cheiracanthium). I have seen them sew together long blades of grass to make a little home. They will also make dense mats of silk (sacs, I suppose) to nestle into nooks and crannies, like the lid of one of my caterpillar enclosures.  So cute!

Posted August 17, 2018