My Digital Photography of
Volume 1: 2004-2009 (Spiders #1-13)
The following orb-weaving spiders were photographed in the Metro-Detroit area, unless otherwise noted. I have identified them by their scientific names, if known. If you know the name of any unidentified spiders, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photographs are sorted so that most recent photos are at the top of the page.
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Orb-weaver #13 --- Cross Spider, Araneus diadematus
A student brought this specimen into school the morning of September 23, 2009. I shared it with my students that day and then photographed and released it.
Orb-weaver #12 --- Cross Spider, Araneus diadematus
I was very happy when Brian pointed out this beautiful cross spider hanging out near the outside hose area. Unfortunately, it was scared to an area under the water meter and couldn't be photographed that day. I waited three more days and kept checking to see if it went in its web again. Although it was windy, the web was still intact, but the spider was still hiding. The weather was getting cold and I was afraid I would miss the photo opportunity entirely if I didn't try another approach. I decided to capture the spider and photograph it indoors on my orchid. First, when I tried to catch it, the spider went right into the center of its web. I hurried inside, grabbed the camera, and came back out and got a couple photos of it in the web. Then it crawled back to its hiding spot and this time I caught it. The spider was very fast and it was hard to get photos that were in focus due to the movement of the spider. It left super strong silk wherever it went, like I'd never felt before (nothing like jumping spiders' silk). When I broke strands off my orchid after the photo shoot, it sounded and felt like snapping fine hair. Near the end of the shoot, the spider had gotten so fast at travelling over its own silk strands that I really couldn't keep up with it. Sometimes, I would have to grab it by the silk strand and replace it on the top of the orchid. A few times, it ended up crawling up my arm. It sure was weird to handle such a large spider. I am used to my little jumpers. This spider was very intelligent. At first, when I released it near its web, it got a little lost and followed a strand up to the wall. I re-captured it and introduced it to its special hiding spot. It immediately made three little dots of silk to secure itself and then settled right in. Two days later, it was still under there, so everything turned out well. One thing I found of interest was that when I was looking up photos of Araneus diadematus on spiderzrule.com, many of the posts were from Michigan and were from just the past few years. I have lived in Michigan all of my life and this is the only one I've ever seen in the Detroit area. I did find one in Saugatuck back in 2004, but that was the first one I'd ever seen in my life until that point. I wonder if their populations have been growing recently so as to cause so many people to write in about them.
Update: These photos were taken on August 19, 2009. After the release of this spider, I observed it several times a week in the exact same location. When I went to check on October 25, 2009, it was gone. It was still there about 3 or 4 days prior. It was such a beautiful spider and I seriously thought about bringing it inside and keeping her through the winter (I managed to keep spider #6 until the end of May the next year), but then I decided to let nature take its course and allow her to die naturally outside.
Orb-weaver #11 --- Cross Spider, Araneus diadematus
I found this cross spider in a web attached to the wall of my old house and the Japanese maple tree. After I took these three photographs, it scurried off and hid in the tree. Click here to see photos of the previous cross spider of whom I was able to take a much better photo shoot.
Orb-weaver #10 --- Species unknown
This orb-weaver was found only a few feet from the cross spider above. I photographed it on 9-14-09.
Orb-weaver #9a and 9b --- Species unknown
This female orb-weaver made it's web just outside my front door, next to the porch light. I photographed it on 9-13-09.
On 9-22-09, at about 10:00 pm, I found the spider eating a wrapped-up moth...
To my surprise, on 9-24-09, there was a male hanging out in her web, I assume of the same species, although his markings look a lot like a cross spider's. The female was in the corner, perhaps getting ready to make an egg sac
Orb-weaver #8 --- Micrathena gracilis (female)
Although I usually try to photograph my spiders in their webs, I had to make an exception for this one I found at my rental property. It was getting late, and there was no way I'd make it back to photograph this amazing orb-weaver I found on August 4, 2008. Besides, there were two of them, each on the same side of the same type of bush, so I figured moving the one wouldn't affect their success in that area too much (only the females of this species make webs, so they were both females). So I captured it and brought it home to photograph. Because it was such a dark black, features like its eyes don't show up so well. I also included some photos that are slightly out of focus in order to better show the unusual shape of this spider. When I was done taking its pictures, I thought about returning it to where I had found it the next day, but it seemed so uncomfortable caged up, so I let it go that evening at my own house. Hopefully it will be ok.
Orb-weaver #7 --- Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta
This spider was first photographed on July 1, 2007 in its web.
Unfortunately, two days later, I was gardening and had forgotten about it (the web was very difficult to see and this was a rather small spider, only about 1/2 inch long from head to tip of abdomen). I must have somehow brushed into the web and destroyed it by accident, because I saw the spider running along the front steps, not in its web anymore. So I scooped it up, figuring I ought to at least photograph it. Then I let it go, but never did find it again. I hope it survived because it certainly is quite rare---I've never seen one of these in my whole life.
Orb-weaver #6 --- Cross Spider, Araneus diadematus Part 2
This is the same orb-weaver that I photographed on 11-2-06. However, about a week after its first photo session, it laid an egg sac over 1/2 inch in diameter. I figured the sac should go outside so the spiders can remain dormant throughout the winter, but I couldn't bear to kill this lovely spider in the cold, so I've been trying to keep it inside. I think she may be out of silk though because she hasn't spun a web and she's only drinking water. You can see that her abdomen is all wrinkled up (those darn stretch marks!) and looks very strange underneath (see close-up photo). I took these photos on an unusual 60-degree F day on November 26, 2006. I managed to keep her alive until May 26, 2007, although it was a strange life for her. She never wanted to spin a web again after she laid her eggs. She had a few web fragments left over and I could get her to eat crickets by tangling them up in these threads. For the first few months, she did quite well eating in this manner. Towards the end of her life, she was refusing to eat and the crickets had to be presented to her already dead. I left her egg sac in an open container outside all winter long, but never saw any spiders emerge this spring.
Orb-weaver #6 --- Cross Spider, Araneus diadematus Part 1
My dad found this spider on November 1, 2006 and was kind enough to bring it over to my house so I could photograph it on 11-2-06. It is nearly an inch long not including legs. It looks similar to the cross spider I found near the Saugatuck Dunes, but is lighter in color and has slightly different markings.
#5 Unidentified Orb-Weaver
This spider was found on my canoe trip on the Huron River on 8-29-06. It spun its web underneath a bridge, so I couldn't get a top view.
#4 Unidentified Orb-Weaver, possibly a Cat-faced Spider, Araneus gemmoides
I was working on repairing my central air conditioner outside on June 13, 2006 and this orb-weaver had spun a web inside and had to be removed. The first pictures show its underside and web before it was displaced onto a flower. It wasn't until after I examined the photos under greater magnification that I realized the spider was carrying a bunch of black eggs! I thought that was its head when I was taking the pictures (I don't see too well). It has those same "cat ears" like a cat-faced spider, but it doesn't seem large enough. Perhaps it is a young one?
#3 Unidentified Orb-Weaver
I photographed this spider at about 10:30 p.m. on 9-18-05. I haven't yet identified it, but it seemed to be catching a lot of insects in its web in the front of my house. Here it is enjoying a nighttime meal. That very night, it rained. The spider's web was destroyed and the spider wasn't seen again until 10-01-05, when I rediscovered it on the window, sheltered by the front porch. This time, I photographed its exposed underside. The following day, it turned around and I took a few shots with my close-up lens.
Orb-weaver #2 --- Banded Argiope, Argiope trifasciata
One of Brian's co-workers found this spider in mid-September 2005 and brought it in to work. He gave it to me to photograph. I identified it as a Banded Argiope, a type of orb-weaving spider of the family Aranaea. Below are photos of it on my kitchen countertop.
I kept the spider for a while in a terrarium because I wanted to get some better close-up shots in the sunlight. It spun a web and I fed it lots of crickets. The following pictures show its much larger abdomen. The last unusual looking shot is of the spider in its web inside the terrarium.
Orb-weaver #1 --- Cross Spider, Araneus diadematus
I photographed this beautiful cross spider in the Saugatuck Dunes on 7-24-04. It is so named for the white "crosses" on its back. Unfortunately, I didn't have a close-up lens at that time to capture more detail.
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