Thursday, September 9, 2010

Embarrassment of Riches


There has been a major emergence of craneflies here recently and many - like the one in this photo - have almost instantly fallen victim to the orb webs of diadem spiders Araneus diadematus. This one had slung its web just at the right height above the grass to catch these gangly insects, that tend to flutter close to the ground when they're laying eggs amongst grass roots. Craneflies are easy victims and this spider had caught several.

When I disturbed the spider in the act of shrouding its latest victim in silk it raced back to the top of the web, to its lair amongst the ragwort seed heads, where its colour provided almost perfect camouflage and where it already had a ladybird in its larder. 
Diadem spiders' webs suffer a lot of wear-and-tear and soon become deranged, only lasting for about a day before the owner eats the old one and spins a replacement ........... so what does it do with its previous day's coccooned, uneaten catch? Transfer it to some temporary store somewhere? I'll have to get out there and have a look...

6 comments:

  1. I wonder what the lifespan is for a cranefly that doesn't fall prey to spider, bird, or other? The spider pics are great; that spider looks like it is channeling a spiny sea urchin. ;-) And excellent view of the spinnerets with silk.

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  2. Great macro shots again Phil. I always remember crane flies as being mid to late summer fliers but here they seem to be much earlier these days. Maybe it depends on the variety.

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  3. Hi Wilma, not very long, I guess - I think birds eat a lot of them. I quite often see craneflies with missing limbs - narrow escapes from spiders' webs maybe....

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  4. Hi John,when I checked I was surprised to see how many species of cranefly there are in the UK - almost 300! Different species appear at different times of year, from spring onwards...

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  5. These photos are astonishing! And they eat the old web...as ever, an education.

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  6. Hi Mark, I find spiders totally fascinating....

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