Posted by: Ross Gardner | September 20, 2011

Spider season

It’s definitely spider time.  Many species of spider reach maturity during late summer and early autumn, thus their more obvious presence around countryside.  They can be tough little things to identify, but a few, as you will have no doubt noticed, are decidedly distinctive.  Not least of these being the Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus), a handsome wee creature and as familiar hanging, with that statuesque patience, head down in the centre of a web slung across the garden shrubs as they are among the hedgerows and grassy places.

Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus). Copyright 2011 Ross Gardner

I recently happened upon a most fascinating exchange between a male and a female Garden Spider.  The female was sat in the centre of her web (tattered as it was) while the male, much more slender in build, moved furtively among the leaves of the goat willow upon which one side of the web was fastened.  The slightest movement of him towards her, was greeted with apparent contempt by she of the web.  He would edge forward, stretching out the foremost of his legs, reaching out to her; she would move towards him an equal distance.  He would move again, perhaps once more after that, and then be bundled from the web with a lightening fast attack.  He would keep coming back, sometimes appearing to tap the end of an anchoring strand of silk with his front pair of legs, as if to tempt her towards him.  Towards him she would come, but not with the motives which he desired, often raising her front legs in a threat posture before seeing him off.

For half an hour I observed these two spiders.  I never did see whether he had his way; I returned to find he gone and she sat, alone and impassive, in her web.

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