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Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Spiders - ingenious predators!

"Their nets they cast like fishermen at sea, the juicy meal that surely cometh.
To its destiny the prey, the ingenious predator to prosper".


The Spider and the Fly cannot make a bargain! ~Jamaican Proverb.

Have you ever witnessed a spider trap its prey? Have you even tried? Believe me, that instant a prey gets trapped in the web and the spider pounces on it is simply astounding! The speed with which the spider moves is better experienced than imagined! Spiders build intricate webs of various kinds to trap their prey and wait in the web. Some wait outside the web! Some just lay a small single line trap. Some others just jump around and catch their prey! They are simply ingenious!

I had more or less taken spiders for granted until I started photographing them. Never did I realize that there were so many of them, so varied and so near! The internet has a plethora of information on any subject, so also spiders. I did some browsing and soon found myself finding names and information on the spiders I was shooting. The study of spiders is known as ARACHNOLOGY.

While I knew that spiders spin webs to entrap their prey, I now learnt that some spiders live in silk-lined burrows and leap out to capture passing insects. Some lie in ambush on plants, tree bark, on the ground or under stones. Others are hunters that go in search of their prey.

Most spiders are lone predators. They live for about a year or so. Most spiders can inject venom to protect themselves or to kill and liquefy prey. The bite of some spiders are dangerous to humans. Spiders feed on live prey, digest them outside and suck in the fluid. Spiders are the largest group of predators in the world!

Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Arthropoda Class: Arachnida Order: Araneae. Almost 40,000 species of spiders (order Araneae) have been identified and are currently grouped into 111 families by arachnologists. However, it is believed that up to 200,000 species may exist!

Spiders have eight legs. You will notice that insects have only six! Spiders have two body sections. Insects have three. Spiders do not have wings or antennae. Most spiders have four pairs of simple eyes.

Spiders are found all over the world in all kinds of habitat. Spiders are terrestrial, although a few have adapted to freshwater life. Some work during the day, some only at night, others all the time!

Almost all spiders spin silk. Spider silk is a fibrous protein. On the abdomen are located the spinnerets, used in secreting silk.

My fascination for these creatures has just started crawling and I welcome you to join me and share the joy! Well, come on then, let us crawl.. look!

JUMPING SPIDERS.
Largest family among spiders. No web building. Jumps about and catches prey.

View some images I made ->Jumping Spiders

a. Ant-mimicking Jumping Spiders.
This tiny and fascinating jumping spider looks like an ant, acts like an ant, moves like an ant and is the size of an ant! First time I saw this in our garden, I did not know it was a spider. I just shot a few frames because this one sat still while, the other ants that were around never stopped moving. Then I saw this move backwards and something told me this was not an ant. Next, I saw the female building a white silky tent on a leaf to lay her eggs. The female does not have those long "arms" you see on the male.



Further investigation reveled a moulted spider inside another tent on another leaf. This one was darker, as seen in the above image. The "exuvia" is also seen. Thus, I came to know, Jumping spiders also use their silk to weave small tent-like dwellings where females can protect their eggs, and which also serve as a shelter while moulting.

ORB WEAVER SPIDERS.
Weaves an Orb Web and waits for prey.


View some images I made ->Orb Weaver Spiders

a. Giant Wood Spider
Large Spider. Huge webs (over 2 feet in width) made by these spiders hung all over the Bhadra Forest. Very colorful and large spider. Many we saw had only seven legs. I read that spiders do give away a limb or two in order to save themselves!

Giant Wood Spider

On Chamundi Hill in Mysore, Karnataka. November, 2007. I saw these spiders in large numbers. Large webs built next to each other by these spiders made a huge canopy about 20 feet above the road below.


I shot the below giant wood spider in Pench, Madhya Pradesh in December 2007. I wonder how this prey jumped some 20ft above the ground to get caught in this web?


b. Decorative Leucauge.
This spider builds a Orb Web. The web is more horizontal to the ground than vertical. Not very large. I first saw this as a green spider hanging horizontally in mid-air about two feet from the ground, in our garden.



c. Signature Spider
Do you notice the signature (Stabilimenta)? These colorful spiders spin a wonderful vertical web and wait for the prey to get caught. This one has just completed its wonderful Orb Web in our garden.



d. Araneus 
This medium sized spider builds a orb web and hides outside the web. As a prey gets caught in the web, it quickly emerges from hiding and wraps the prey with silk and takes it back to its hiding place to feed on it! Here you can see it getting rid of a petal and rebuilding its web...



FUNNEL-WEB SPIDERS.
These are larger spiders that build a funnel like web under a rock or so and wait for prey to come to their door step.



This Grass Spider builds a flat web on grass. I saw many nests in the same area in Bandipur, Karnataka in November, 2007. Inside each web on which dew had settled was a single spider!

Grass Spider

CRAB SPIDERS.
They are called "crab spiders" because of their first two pairs of legs, which are held out to the side giving them a crab-like appearance. Also called "flower spider" they are often found on flowers waiting to pouncing on their prey. Quite small.



LYNX SPIDERS.
These spend their lives on plants, flowers and shrubs. Their keen eyesight lets them ambush prey. They quickly hide under the leaf when they sense danger.

Lynx Spider with prey!


TREE TRUNK SPIDERS.
Also known as the "Two-tailed Spider". Waits camouflaged on trunks of trees and captures prey by laying a light coating of silk over an area of the tree. When a prey trips the thread they direct their spinnerets towards their prey and circle it all the while casting silk on it.


Tree Trunk Spider

SOCIAL SPIDERS.
These are cooperative spiders that live together in a colony.

On a tip from a nature lover, we went in search of this spider and found these. First image shows the colony in its habitat. Next, you will see the spiders together and then I did manage to shoot one that was on the ground. These are extremely small spiders!



More from BBC Earth -> Spiders!

Thanks for your company! Do keep crawling in as I continue spinning new yarns!

Vijay Cavale
August, 2007