September 5th, 2007
The crows aren’t the only ones coming out for fall in Los Angeles. Huge, beautiful (creepy?) orb spiders have come back. Every evening in a couple of choice locations around the yard, about 15 feet in the air, they start weaving. Before bed I can usually spot a couple not far from where they were the night before. These orb spiders have huge bulbous bodies and, unlike the many jumping spiders, cobweb spiders, house spiders and other crawly friends around here, these guys make big old classic webs. They shoot out long strands between the trees and the eves of our house and then make the circuit, around and around, filling them in for a couple hours. And it looks like they capture big old moths. I hope so, for all that work. Frequently they are still hanging there in the morning with their webs slightly broken, and they seem to hide out during the day.
Lots of good info and photos can be found at the Natural History Museum’s Spider Survey page. You can even participate by dunking your spiders into alcohol, filling out a form and sending them to the museum. (I prefer to leave them in my yard). And we love this book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin for all of our figuring-out-what-bug-this-is needs, also written by folks at the Natural History Museum.