Spin­ning a net

Landscape (UK) - - Our Landscape -

Dew in early au­tum­nal morn­ings re­veals the del­i­cate webs of gar­den spi­ders. These orb webs are among the most ad­vanced spun by spi­ders. They con­sist of a se­ries of con­cen­tric cir­cles, start­ing from the small­est at the cen­tre, each di­vided by ra­dial lines of silk that are stretched be­tween an­chor points. The spi­der sits upside down in the cen­tre of the web, wait­ing for in­sects to be trapped in the sticky silk. It then quickly wraps its prey in more silk and bites it. Gar­den spi­ders are most com­monly seen in Sep­tem­ber and Oc­to­ber, when they reach adult size. The orb web is spun by the fe­male, the male build­ing a smaller zigzag web nearby. He at­tracts her at­ten­tion by pluck­ing at the silk on her web. After mat­ing, the fe­male builds a silken co­coon in which her eggs are laid. She pro­tects this egg sac un­til she dies in late au­tumn. The spi­der­lings hatch the fol­low­ing May.

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