August 29, 2012
Posted By: Ask a Naturalist
Its that time of year again where it seems with each turn, we encounter one of our favorite animals to fear: the lovely spider.
The truth is I am actually very fond of these little guys; they play such an important role in the ecosystem and are often not given enough credit by us humans. In fact, just this morning, I was observing numerous spiders creating intricate insect catching systems in my backyard. In the short five minutes I was outside, I discovered a small triangulate orb weaver (Verrucosa arenata) in the grass, a small cluster of basilica spiders (Mecynogealemniscata) in the process of weaving and a beautiful black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) dangling from her web. These spiders are known for creating a zigzag down their webs that is sometimes referred to as writing. Take a peek at the photo of this beautiful spider and her handiwork above.
Recently, Charlotte Nature Museum has received several questions regarding what appears to be an increase in the number of spiders in our area. The fact is there are no more spiders than usual; the ones you see are just all grown up and now more conspicuous. This happens annually in late summer through early fall as these once young spiders have done their part for the environment by consuming oodles of insects and are now at adult size. As they reach maturity, many males are out and about; scouting the area in search of the perfect mate instead of hiding in crevices. So youre not seeing a sudden increase in spiders but witnessing the critter equivalent of a night out on the town.
Have you noticed more arthropod friends weaving webs around your neighborhood? Tell us about your experiences by connecting on Facebook!