Night Weaver Eriophora ravilla
You slip out in a hurry to retrieve something from your car. It is past nightfall, and pitch black dark under a moonless clouded sky. You take another step. Suddenly you're frantically swatting at webbing that's folded around you from head to toe, and you can feel footsteps in your hair! Welcome to my night weavers.
Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla
This very large spider is curled up in a hammock it's made of two leaves. That seems to be where they take shelter and sleep through the day. I pried the leaves apart to get a look at it. The webbing is pretty strong, I really had to tug at it.
Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla, curled up in a Hibiscus leaf to sleep through the day
I thought I was slick when I plucked a few leaves and tossed them into a web before I went to bed to help me see it in the pre-dawn gloom. To my surprise, the leaves were gone in the morning, yet the web hung intact. I investigated. This time I tossed the leaves and stood by to watch. The spider went to each leaf in turn, worked at it a bit, and dropped it to the ground. Huh? A spider that CLEANS its web? It makes sense I suppose; other bugs might miss the tiny strands of webbing, but a leaf in mid-air is more difficult to overlook, so the hungry spider needs to keep its web trap in good shape if it wants to catch its supper.
Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla
The Eriophora ravilla spider didn't seem nearly as big all curled up after I caught it. It tucks into a very compact defensive position.
Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla
Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla, stepping on a quarter
The spider web is even stronger in the dark when you're leaping and tugging it off of your skin, but that might be an illusion caused by the fear factor. These bristly bugs come out of hiding after sunset and spin webs that are too big to believe - like a sheet hanging on the clothes line big! Now, I can't say that I mind when they set up shop nearby and protect my front door from the frequent fliers of the night, but I have to draw the line when I can't get to my car without getting through a monster web.
Giant spiderweb of the Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla. The spider is retrieving its web.
Web shots in the dark are a bit tricky, particularly when the web moves. Once I bugged the bug it moved and the web began to sway, so choosing an evening without a breeze didn't help as much as I'd hoped. After I'd bugged the huge spider a bit more, it began to pull the web in like a fisherman pulling a cast net into his hands to prepare to cast it.
I don't know what it actually did with all that web, but it vanished as though the tropical orb weaver spider was eating it as it pulled it toward its huge hairy body. The spider set up shop in a different spot the next night.
Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla, hiding in a Passiflora suberosa leaf. You can see the small green Corkystem flower in front of the spider.
This smaller spider was sleeping in my Passiflora suberosa when I found it curled up between two webbed together leaves. I think it's also a Tropical Orb Weaver. As we get smaller and look at the spiderlings I've found, I'm not so sure, but my best guess is that they are also these Eriophora ravilla spiders.
Tropical orbweaver spiderlings, Eriophora ravilla, on Green Shrimp Plant.
Baby Tropical Orb Weaver Spiders, Eriophora ravilla, still in a small spiderling ball on a Green Shrimp Plant.
Tropical Orb Weaver Spiderlings, Eriophora ravilla, beginning to disperse on an Australian Pine
Baby Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla
Tropical Orb Weaver Spiderlings, Eriophora ravilla
The tiny yellow spider babies kept moving, and moving. Every time I turned the branch to take a picture, they wiggled to face away from my camera, and the sunlight. Evelyn had much better luck with them.
Baby Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla
Baby Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla
Shed skin of a baby Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla, hanging in its webbing from Australian Pine Needles
Like tiny ghosts, their shed skins hang in the webbing. Spiders shed their skin as they grow.
Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla
Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla
Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla, after it's grown up and the yellow has faded to beige
Tropical Orb Weaver Spider babies, Eriophora ravilla
Tropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla, hairy spider with a yellow or lime green circle on its back
And, through the looking glass, (because I'm a scaredy cat,) the belly of the beast:
Belly of aTropical Orb Weaver Spider, Eriophora ravilla
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