Sunday, April 19, 2009
As a counterpoint to the deadlife that usually populates this blog, I'll be posting some images of livelife that has occasionally interrupted the search for said deadlife.
Nephila edulis, or the golden orb weaver, (click image to enlarge) is common throughout the Flinders Ranges, and is an FBS, where the B and S stand for Big Spider. This one is about 15 cms (around 6 inches) in total length. The female always builds the web, as the males generally live on the periphery of her web and are usually about 1 cm (0.5 inch) long. She will sit in the centre, next to her tube of spoils, maintaining contact with the web, ready to pounce on anything unlucky enough to get trapped, and bring it back to her tube of spoils.
As befits a FBS, she builds a FBW where the B and W stand for Big Web. The central web is 120+ cm (4+ ft) long, and usually stretches across a clearing between two large bushes. In other words right across where you would normally walk. In other words right across where you would normally walk while looking down at the ground (because you are a geologist and the ground is where the rocks are).
If you are lucky, the centre of the web is at chest height, or above head height.
If you are lucky.
You aren't always lucky.
However, the local name for them is "drop-off spider" because, if you are unfortunate enough to encounter a web, the spider will generally drop off the web, or you, rather than bite (they have small jaws anyway and on the rare occasion that they bite, the results are not too bad).
Very polite of them considering the amount of work that went into the structure you have just destroyed.
The web framework is incredibly strong and will actually resist breaking, so you are in no doubt that you have just encountered one.