Monday, October 09, 2006

Octavia in Love

Look carefully at the picture above. It's a web spun by our latest "Octavia." There are six of them now. We picked up five more females on a nature trail Saturday and released them in the orchid room the next day to join the Original Octavia. By this morning, one had spun a web in the greenhouse, two are MIA (probably hiding) and three had made their way up to the rafters and outside, where one spun a web under the eaves. The two others built lairs closer to the ground. Larry spotted the Original Octavia, engorged by her grasshopper feast, creeping along the top edge of the greenhouse last night. We're hoping she was looking to spin an egg sac and fill it with eggs.

We have high hopes that we'll get at least one egg sac. Again, I call your attention to the top photo, specifically the upper left hand corner. Do you see him? He may not look like much but that diminutive little guy is a male Nephila clavipes. We were lucky to snag two males along with their mates, but we saw many, many more. Some webs had a female and two males. The biologist I interviewed last week said males are a good sign; the presence of the shorter-lived males this late in the season means the golden silk spiders will establish a permanent population. Prior to this they were very rare as we were on the very tip of their range of this tropical genus. Provided we keep having these mild winners in a couple more years the spiders won't even be a novelty anymore.

But even if they aren't, I'll still be fascinated by them and hope to have them establish here on our property in the coming year. After all, how can you not be charmed by a spider who spins a web of gold?


Anonymous said...

That's a lot of woman for such a little guy. Think he's up for the task?

Erik said...

Does the web look golden?

What would be even better is if it was actual gold. Even I could put up with them if that was the case!

I am thinking this is going to be a harsher winter than the past few, but that is just my feeling. To back it up we are to get some snow tonite. Up to 3 inches possible in the city.

Morgan said...

"Does the web look golden?"

Yes, it does. Hence the name "golden silk spider." If you enlarge the second pic and look closely, you'll see how golden the silk really is.

I'm afraid we are going to have a harsh winter, despite predictions. Alex's shetland pony started getting its winter coat in AUGUST, and my Haflinger wasn't far behind.

I'm kind of torn. I want a mild winter for the spiders, but would like cold weather and would love some snow. Larry hates cold weather because it makes it so much more expensive to run the greenhouses.

Speaking of which, Erik I wrote a post below called Greenhouse 101 just for you. :-) It was in response to your questions about greenhouses.

Morgan said...

Anon, I've always wondered the same thing. The garden spiders around here have itty bitty mates, but the guys seem to be able to do the deed. I guess size doesn't matter to spiders.

CJ said...

Don't come knockin' if the web's a-rockin'.

Morgan said...

LOL CJ. They had those very words woven into the web this morning.