Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mountain Spider

The Mountain Spider (Aculepeira carbonarioides) finishes its lunch.

On a recent trip to Mayflower Gulch, we decided to bushwhack up a talus slope at the end of the Gulch to some old mining ruins. Suddenly, we noticed large webs hanging between the boulders. These webs were everywhere and what is more sinister, large anchor lines, the size of climbers ropes could be seen well up the slope, glistening in the sun. Then we noticed the spiders themselves, perched jauntily at the center of their webs. The sheer volume of them made us wonder if it was wise to continue on to the large cave-like ruin ahead. Did anyone see large antennae protruding from cave? Where all these spiders merely the offspring of some human-snatching arachnid? As we worked ourselves up into a frenzy of speculation several of us heard a distinct and ominous growl coming from a particular part of the slope (most likely a Yellow-bellied Marmot). We almost bolted back down the hill in childish glee.

These spiders are reported to hang out in the middle of their webs during the sunniest part of the day. All the ones we saw certainly were.

In reality, these orb-weaving spiders are actually quite common throughout North America and inhabit talus and boulder fields where their large webs can clearly be seen. This is my first experience with them however.

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