Today, December 6th, after a kind of magnificent life, this marvelous specimen of ariope aurantia finally gave up the ghost. We watched her all summer and fall (recall that winter doesn’t even start until December 20th) and were amazed to watch her lay one eggsac after another. Just after laying the last one, she was very skinny, as seen above. Usually, she was plump and very pretty.
Admittedly, she got some feeding help from us. I loved capturing various insects and experimenting to see if they would catch and stay in her web. Grasshoppers almost always too heavy, but some crickets and almost all stunned houseflies were accepted with swift gratitude and wrapped with alacrity.
Ariope is a member of the writing spider family, which nickname comes from the white cursive crosses that strengthen the middle of their web. Charlotte, the most famousest writing spider of all, was a barn spider, a close relative. These spiders weave a large radial web in a partially sunny spot and sit back, awaiting ambush time. Our writing spider spent most of her time stock still directly behind her central reinforcements. When something landed, she was very nimble and rapid in mummifying her prey.
This spider lived a very long time and we really enjoyed watching her all summer. As fall’s days lengthened, we realized she had laid not one but two egg sacs. I had given her several “treats” of crickets or other bugs, but we were still impressed. Then, as the light freezes occurred, we became very aware of her continued existence, and watched as she laid a third and then a FOURTH egg sac. The last one was light and delicate, but we will certainly leave them all in place and hope for more arachnid entertainment next year!
Count ‘em – four… 1,2,3,4!