Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Web Weaving 101

Our dryer broke a few weeks ago.  We waited two weeks for the electrician to come and determine that it was receiving power, and then another week to get the new dryer here and installed, only to discover that the cord didn't fit our outdated outlet.  The electrician is coming tomorrow, thankfully, but in the meantime we've been hanging our laundry to dry in one of the few sunny spots - on the back deck.

It didn't take me long to discover two spiny-backed orb weavers that were making their webs there, spanning the area from the patio umbrella to the deck railing.

They have the most interesting spiky backs, and these had yellow-speckled abdomens.

On one trip outside with yet another basket of wet laundry, I noticed one just starting to spin a web.  It was absolutely fascinating!  She had already secured the long strands that radiated outward from the center, which was just a few strands.

She focused on stabilizing the center first...

There, that's better!

Then she made her way to the outermost edges and started spinning her way inward.

She pulled up on each center section before moving on, leaving behind a tidy white strand.

There seemed to be several supporting strands.  Their placement looked random to me but I'm sure it made perfect sense to her.

It took her around an hour to finish the whole web.

What a beauty!

I was coming home from running errands later that week and noticed another web in the front yard.  This one had distinctive dashes all around the outside edge, clearly to help others see where the web was located and to avoid it.

It was another spiny-backed orb weaver, and a pretty clever idea, I think!

Another orb weaver has a web outside my office window.  It's amazing how the basic integrity of the web is maintained, even when it's full of holes from blundering insects.

We've had some beautiful fungus pop up in these early fall days. 

It's hard to identify fungus because there are so many different varieties, but I think this is turkey tail fungus, so named for its similarity to that noble bird's hindquarters.

This is almost certainly Laetiporus sulphureus: The Chicken of the Woods.  This is an edible fungus that, when cooked, supposedly tastes "just like chicken".  Isn't it beautiful?

Bonus:  a little garden slug!

Finally, we have what I think is abortiporus biennus growing in our side yard. 

I love discovering all of these interesting things when I go outside.  I hope you have a chance to check out your yards soon too...who knows what you'll find?

Have a great week!

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