Watching nature do what nature does

Golden Orb Weaver Spiders make quick work of any insect venturing into its web. (Photo by Glynn Harris)

This past Saturday, Louisiana greeted the first of a number of opening days of hunting seasons when shooting doves became legal. Some photos emerging on the Internet reveals that some hunters had good success while others I talked with didn’t.

As I have done for the past umpteen years, I was there for season opening, joining friends as we set up next to a plot of bush-hogged millet and naturally growing goat weed.

Excessive heat and dry conditions meant that for the most part, we sat and sweated seeing very few doves that displayed enough moxie to leave the coolness of a thicket to grab a millet or goat weed snack.

A trio of us decided our time would be best spent sitting under a big fan in the shade of the front porch of the property owner’s camp house. If we weren’t going to get a crack at doves, we may as well find a more comfortable spot to pass the time.

As we sat and chatted, I noticed a large spider in the center of a web just under the eave of the porch. The property owner remarked it had been there awhile and he saw no reason to remove the web.

The spider was large; two inches or more from the tip of its forelegs to the end of it’s rear legs. The colors and pattern of the spider were eye-catching from the golden color of the legs as they emerged from the body changing to black halfway to the tip.

The head appeared grayish in color but the rear part of the spider was a striking black and gold combination.

Curiosity sent me to the Internet to find out what this handsome fellow was and from the photos I found, the spider on the porch was a Golden Orb Weaver Spider.

Here’s some more information I found about these scary looking but strikingly beautiful creatures…

Female golden orb weavers are much larger than males, with a body that can grow to 10 times the size of males.

They get their name from the color of the giant webs that they build, which have a golden-yellow color which is thought to attract flying insects.

The females build massive webs and are made from very strong silk. Each web has one female and can have more than one male living in it. The webs are so strong they can trap small birds and even bats.

Breeding time is very dangerous for the males as they can be caught and eaten by the female. After breeding, the females lay hundreds of eggs and then both the males and females die.

As we watched the big spider suspended motionless in the center of the web, a wasp made the fatal mistake of venturing too close. It became trapped in the web and the spider sprang into immediate action.

The three of us were mesmerized by what we observed. In a matter of seconds, the spider swiftly encased the wasp in its web. In a blur of action taking no longer than ten seconds, the spider had the wasp completely wrapped in its web.

We never saw a smaller male in the web. While the wasp was destined for the spider’s dinner, do you suppose the male may have been the big female’s lunch?

You can learn some stuff just by taking the time to watch nature do what nature does.

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