Saturday, September 24, 2011

Marbled Orb Weaver

 Take a look at this thing and tell me what you'd think upon first seeing it.

 On Thursday (09/22/11) as I was preparing to mow, I saw this "thing" on the back of the house, near the base of the bricks. From a distance, it looked a little like a small yellow balloon. But getting down on my hands and knees, I saw that it was a spider. In fact I saw that its two black eyes were looking back up at me!
 I posted this picture on my Facebook account, then followed up with a post on WHIO-TV. I asked for suggestions as to what kind of spider it might be. No one knew. Some suggested it was a female carrying a large egg sack. But the "sack" was on its back.
 Thanks to a website that specializes in identifying arachnids, I got a quick answer. It's a Marbled Orb Weaver (Araneus marmoreus), a not uncommon spider best known for the glorious webs it weaves. It is not dangerous.
 Sadly, the next day I went out, it was still in the same spot. I took a leaf and touched it and found it quite dead. I understand these spiders are very shy and solitary and it is unusual to see them in the open, particularly during the day. So perhaps it was ill when I first saw it? As it jerked when I placed a camera near it, it was still living when this shot was taken.
 Nevertheless, it's a new creature for me and one that I find exceedingly odd. That bulbous structure seems almost the color of a very old cantaloupe. It seems very out of place and very large for so frail a looking creature. A natural miracle, of course, and even more of one that I should come upon it.