This fall, I have enjoyed watching our resident garden spider (I call her Autumn), who decided to make her web right outside our kitchen window. About a month ago, Autumn, who was nice and plump, made an egg sac. You can read about it here. She slimmed down considerably after making that egg sac.
I’ve noticed for the past week that Autumn has quit re-spinning her web every morning. Her web is no small creation. In fact, it’s quite large – about two feet across. She starts it before the sun is up and finishes it just as it’s becoming light. I stood at the kitchen window early one morning and watched her finish it. It amazed me how her little body could just keep making more and more silk. I was mesmerized and I couldn’t quit watching.
It’s been cooler here at night (anywhere from the 40s to the 60s). One night it got down to 36. I don’t think we’ve had a frost yet and I know garden spiders often succumb to the first frost. I notice Autumn’s activity decreases significantly when the temperature drops. Her web is looking very shabby now and I haven’t witnessed her catching any prey or eating in the past two weeks. I doubt her dilapidated little web could even catch any prey now. But I noticed a few days ago that she had become nice and plump and round again.
Last night when I was letting the kitties out on the deck, I had the outside lights on which shine on Autumn’s web (which is between the kitchen window and the screen of the deck) and I noticed that I didn’t see her silhouette in the center of the web on the stabilimentum (the silky zigzag pattern they make) where she just about always sits. My heart sank a little. I’ve known her time is about up and I feared Autumn had passed on to that great web in the sky. My eyes glanced up to the egg sac, and there she was! She was depositing more silk around the sac. I thought to myself that she must know her time is drawing near and she was just reinforcing the sac to afford it a little more protection for when she’s gone.
I’ve read that garden spider egg sacs are heavily parasitized by wasps and flies. A blogger friend commented on my last post that mud daubers are big enemies to the egg sacs and that she often finds baby garden spiders inside the mud dauber nests as she’s washing them away. I thought about how very hard these spiders work in making the sac and what an incredible amount of energy it takes. It made me sad to think that all of this spider’s hard work might be in vain. But then I guess it’s helping the mud daubers. I keep reminding myself that it’s all about the circle of life.
Two hours went by and I checked on Autumn again and she was still busy working and depositing more silk but this time I noticed a bleb and it dawned on me that she was making a new egg sac! Where is her energy coming from, I wondered? Another hour went by and I checked on her one last time before going to bed and she was still busy at work. It was midnight at that point.
This morning, hubby told me to go check on Autumn, that there was a second egg sac.
I can’t imagine how exhausted that spider is. Making that egg sac took many, many hours and I’m sure she worked until the sun came up. Today I watched a time lapsed video of a garden spider making an egg sac. I had no idea it involved so much work by the spider. It’s really amazing when you stop to think about it.
Watching this spider has absolutely fascinated me. I will miss her when she’s gone.