Hint, Hint

I have very little time to A) write this post and B) get it uploaded, so today’s post is going to be VERY short! In fact, it’s so short, it’s just going to include a few photos hinting at what will come next Monday.

These are among my favorite photos I’ve taken over the last few days:

ant tending aphids

Ant tending aphids

An ant doing what ants like to do.  It’s protecting the colony’s aphid herds from predators while sucking down the sweet juices (honeydew) that the aphids excrete.  This isn’t the most fabulous, Alex Wild style photo in the world, but it’s the best I’ve ever gotten.

Spider on web

Spider on web

A really cool spider that had a huge web running between a railing and a high ceiling on a good, old-fashioned midwestern porch.  This shot was taken at night.  I think it’s a wolf spider of some sort, but I’m not sure.  Anyone want to help me out here?

Spider

Spider at porch light

Another cool spider (possibly the same as the other one), hanging out on the porch by the light at night.  Good place to be if you’re a spider!  And finally:

hover fly

Hover fly

A hover fly.  There have been TONS of these out in eastern Missouri.  They like to lick up dried sweat apparently.  They swarmed backpacks and other sweaty items like mad!

If you’d like to know what these four photos have in common, check back next Monday for the explanation.  And to all of you Americans out there, have a great labor day!

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11 thoughts on “Hint, Hint

  1. I don’t think that wolf spiders weave webs to catch prey. They usually hunt on foot. That looks a lot like an orb weaver to me, maybe one of the Araneus genus. It very much resembles the ones that I see spinning webs outside my windows here in Virginia.

    • Thanks for the direction! I know absolutely nothing about spiders, so I am happy to get any help I can with identifying this guy. I’ll look into the orb weavers when I have a chance and see if I can find my spider. These are much bigger than the orb weavers I typically come across and several people I’ve been working with the last few days have been calling them wolf spiders, so that’s what I went with.

      • I spent some time over at bugguide.net trying to ID them more closely. The second spider looks an awful lot like Neoscona crucifera:
        http://bugguide.net/node/view/558917/bgimage

        Here’s another crucifera that looks remarkably like the first one:
        http://bugguide.net/node/view/451359/bgimage

        Apparently they are often confused with Araneus cavaticus, and both species are referred to as barn spiders. That’s the spider in Charlotte’s Web:
        http://www.awesomestories.com/flicks/charlottes-web/who-is-charlotte

        • Cool! I thought they looked really similar in spite of the body shape differences. I kept thinking about how tarantulas have very different sizes and shapes between the males and females. The two spiders were about 8 feet apart too. Glad you think they might actually be the same thing!

          I guess I had always thought of Charlotte being a smaller spider, but I shall now title the photo of the spider in the web Charlotte. :) Thanks for the Bug Guide searching too! I was going to do the same thing, so you saved me some time.

        • I had a chance to look at the photos finally and I think you’re right. Definitely looks a lot like the crucifera, and I’m thinking I have a male and a female in my photos. Thanks for taking the time to look into it! It’s a whole lot easier to have a starting point when you’re browsing Bug Guide, so I appreciate your effort.

  2. A lot of people call any hairy spider a wolf spider. Proper wolf spiders are hunting spiders. The female uses the web to weave an elaborate bag to hold her eggs, but they don’t use their webs to catch prey. They tend to be ambush hunters.

    I’m not an expert, but the two spider pictures don’t look like the same species to me at all. Just the body proportions are quite different between the two, though they do have a similar color scheme. Maybe that’s the standard coloration of spiders that are evolutionarily adapted to porches.

    The first spider looks a lot like the spiders we have around here (Central Florida). They only come out at night, weaving very large webs across open areas. When we have one in residence on my porch, I end up having to get the trash out much earlier than I normally do, as they completely cover the front steps! But the web is gone in the morning as just before dawn, the spiders eat their webs up and find a hiding spot to wait for the next evening. They also like building webs between my mother’s car and the hedge where they can catch a lot of bugs attracted to the street lights. That can be “fun” to run into at night when I’m out looking for neat night stuff. I ended up with one of those things on my face once! Yikes! No bites, though. He was very polite about the whole incident.

      • It would seem so. Nature is nothing if not wonderfully diverse. Or maybe our spiders are just more polite or didn’t want us clumsy humans messing up their webs during the day. : – )

  3. Hate ta change the subject…It’s the evening of 8 Sept ’11. We had approx 10 Dragonflies hovering at the top of a ~30′ tree (foreign Sweet Gum sp.). There may have been more individuals lit on the tree. Couldn’t see. The swarm dispersed over about 5-8 min., just in time to be gone before our next door bat population took wing.
    -Ted (west of Houston)

    ps
    it has been exceptionally dry here for months, and no storm of ANY description for 100’s of miles.

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