Argiope aurantia
Yellow garden spider (July 28, 2001)

Today (July 28)

My naive guess, yesterday, that our spider had not rebuilt its web from the day before was incorrect. I knew at the time that most spiders dismantle their old webs and rebuild new ones every day, but the close similarity between the webs over the 26th and 27th (at least the central portion of the stabilimentum) fooled me.

Go back to July 26, 2001 * July 27, 2001

Proceed to July 29, 2001 * July 30, 2001 * July 31, 2001

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Yesterday (July 27)

Today, it is obvious that yesterday's web, on the right is no more. Of course, I am concluding this by observing the structure of the stabilimentum alone, since the rest of the web is difficult to photograph. Today's stabilimentum is much larger, since the spider's body is much smaller by comparison. This is a pattern that will probably be repeated as the spider continues to grow. Notice that the carapace, or that part of the body where the legs attach, seems more visible in today's photo. It is not uniformly silvery gray, as a mature Argiope aurantia's carapace is, but is black with eight yellow lines radiating out from its center.

I attempted to get a photo of part of the sticky spirals that surround the stabilimentum. The photo on the left is the result of that feeble attempt. Ultraviolet illumination, in the dark of night, will probably work much better, and will allow me to get images of the radial and frame strands as well. One of these days I will try that and see what happens. I don't want to injure our spider or damage its web in the process, even though it would probably forgive me if I mess the web up just before it dismantles it to build a new one.

Web construction is often done in the dark, because prey are not active during this time of day and the lack of light does not present a problem for the spider. The construction process is controlled only by the sense of touch, without any visual feedback. Even when spiders are fitted with tiny blindfolds, they construct perfect webs. It only takes a spider about half an hour to completely dismantle its old web and rebuild it. The web contains very little silk (0.1 to 0.5 milligram in weight), but its strands, when placed end-to-end, total about 60 feet in length. Individual strands are only 1-2 ┬Ám thick. Male spiders will often build webs similar to the female, but without the sticky catching spiral.