Monday, November 1, 2010
Now that Halloween is over, we can take down all the spooky decorations. However, here in the Pacific Northwest there is one seasonal artifact that you shouldn’t take down and you needn’t be scared of at all. Have you noticed the beautiful and elaborate webs of the garden orb weavers? How do they make these webs? And why are there so many of them all of the sudden?
If you’ve spent time outdoors recently, chances are you’ve seen one or more of these active spiders. Garden orb weavers are named after the intricate, circular web they build. There are almost 3,000 different species of orb weavers, found all around the world. In Western Washington, the most common orb weaver that you might see is the garden orb weaver. This species is also common throughout the United States and much of Western Europe.
Although they are relatively common, that doesn’t make them any less fantastic. A giant spider web might be a nuisance when you accidently walk into it face first. But if you can spot it before you break it, take a second to marvel at the architectural design of these tiny creatures.
Many orb weavers build a new web every single day. At nightfall they consume their web, rest for a short while, and then rebuild a new one. This is why we see so many fresh webs every morning.
Garden orb weavers are most visible in the fall, but they are actually around all year. Most of the year they are smaller and harder to see. They are at their largest in early autumn, just before laying their egg sacs which will hatch next spring. It won’t be long before these marvelous webs will disappear for the winter. So enjoy them while they’re here!
Some of the above photographs of orb weaver spiders are in the public domain.