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.
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.
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;
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.
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.
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
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.
This smaller spider was sleeping in my
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
Tropical orbweaver spiderlings, Eriophora ravilla, on
Green Shrimp Plant
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.
Like tiny ghosts, their shed skins hang in the webbing. Spiders shed
their skin as they grow.
And, through the looking glass, (because I'm a scaredy cat,) the belly
of the beast: