I’m not sure who noticed them first, but they are hard to miss. My first sighting was while walking out the door a few mornings ago. A thread had been attached to the door frame in the middle of the night and I tore it free with my exit. This particular Neoscona crucifera, a Hentz orb weaver, was nearly as startled as I was, as she – because we learned that it’s only the females who spin webs – skittered up the side of the house. Their webs are impressive and stunning.
We’ve been in this house for three years but have never seen this particular species, but right now, we’ve got about half a dozen in various crevices outside. Z. has named the one outside her bedroom window “Orba,” while the two other most visible ones are “Peg” and “Meg.” She told me that some spiders spin different types of silk, some sticky and some not, so they can move freely across their webs. I guess I had never really considered why it is that spiders don’t get stuck in their own webs. The orb weaver typically doesn’t spend much time in one place, though, and several days later, most have moved on to new locations. Such excitement this morning when I woke Z. up with the news that Orba had returned to her location sometime in the night. We’re all hoping that there will be eggs and wee spiders (perhaps a thousand or more), before the frosts come.
When I was in Pittsburgh last summer, one had spun an intricate, massive web along the entire length of my hosts’ front porch. It was impossible not to stop and examine it, and I came and went every day, impossible not to admire how much effort and detail go into such a complicated – at least, complicated in my mind – endeavor.