August 8, 2014

The Webs They Weave

The moisture of foggy mornings earlier this week settled on spider webs, highlighting their delicate structures. The lawn was dotted with fine, lacy handkerchiefs, the webs of grass spiders, who hide in funnel-like holes until their prey is spotted.

The silk of this orb web....

....and this is dotted with beads of moisture making them glitter like a crystal chandelier. (click on images to enlarge and see the details)

A tiny red spider is at the center of an elegant web in the raspberry patch. These tiny creatures, and so many others, are usually unseen, unnoticed; the sparkling of the moist web points them out.

Another small spider is centered in its web, but as I came close to photograph it, it took off quickly and hid amid some flowers.

I don't know what kind of spider made this sheet web, a thin net catching water, soil, debris, and a strand of hair. Spider silk is amazingly strong, with greater tensile strength than the same weight of steel, as I learned on Wikipedia.

Here is one of my grand spider residents, a barn spider, Araneus cavaticus, made famous by the marvelous story Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. These spiders weave sometimes spectacular webs and some years my shed is festooned with the stretching silk. My Charlotte, who lives on the porch, usually works at night, but one afternoon she appeared so I could take her picture. If you enlarge it by clicking, you'll see the silk coming out from the end of her abdomen, and she adroitly uses her legs to put it in place. Watching this spider, it is easy to imagine how White was inspired to think of the barn spider weaving words into its web.

I wanted an excuse to share a favorite haiku by Issa, translated by Robert Hass, so here is a web, with its spider, in the corner of the doorway to the cellar:

Don't worry, spiders,
I keep house


  1. Marvelous photos of fairy lace being guarded by spiders no doubt.

  2. We have a great many spiders, both in the garden and in the house, and I find them and their webs fascinating. Your post also reminded me of the installation piece made by weaver Ismini Samanidou: The Revenge of Arachne

  3. Beautiful photos and reflective, evocative words as always, Altoon. I was reminded of a Japanese Folk tale I heard a lot as a child. This version does not have the illustrations I most remember, but it tells the story of The Spider Weaver:

  4. Thanks so much for the comments, Lisa, Olga, and Julie. And thank you for the links. The installation looks amazing, Olga. And that folk tale is marvelous, Julie. It seems that we humans have a great fascination with spiders and their webs.