Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Way In

I'm currently reading Waiting for Aphrodite by Sue Hubbell, which details the life histories of some invertebrates, but not always the ones I was expecting--the author lives in coastal Maine, but few of her chosen inverts are marine. It's quite an enjoyable tour of the phyla, though Hubbell can't resist the cliched digressive passage about evolution, where she recounts verbally thrashing an open-minded teen (!) who is (or was...) interested in the many facets of the evolution discussion.  But the experienced reader of natural history can take or leave those few paragraphs, and still enjoy the excellent narrative provided by an author who enjoys observing the organisms around her.
Orb-weaver--primitive, but pretty!

 After photographing a lovely orb-weaver the other night, and shunning the ragged work of the funnel-weavers, which resemble little more than cob-webs in a corner, I read the bit about spiders in Hubbell's book, and was intrigued by the notion that orb-weavers, despite the beauty and order of their webs, are actually (or, rather, theoretically) the more primitive arachnids of the two groups. So I went hunting for the funnel-weavers in my brush pile, and tried to see the beauty in their messy webs.  Getting a closer look, it seems, is the key. They may not be as beautiful, but it seems to me that they are very efficient and strong--a good plan for a predator that lives by trapping prey in a net.

 Here are some photos of the many funnel webs in my brush pile. (Do you have a brush pile?  It's a great way to attract wildlife!)

Collects more rainwater than an orb...

Is more densely built...
Is attached to everything nearby...
It's more like a sheet than a web, and even catches dusty droppings from a wood-boring beetle.

Hello funnel-weaver! (Agelanopsis) Look carefully to the left and see the funnel it has begun to weave.

Welcome to my parlor...

Can't get enough spiders?  Check out some books and field guides.

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