Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A bending sage stalk and a resident upon it

with 12 comments

Click for greater size and clarity.

As is true of all plants in the mint family, the stalks of Salvia farinacea are square in cross-section. They also often have a propensity to bend first one way and then the other. On June 1, when I took the picture of mealy blue sage flowers that you saw last time, I noticed one such sinuous sage stalk and decided to photograph it. That it was drying out I could tell from afar, but only when I got close did I see spiderwebs and then the tiny spider that had spun them. I think you’ll agree that this predator is well camouflaged against the pale gray of the sage stalk.

The spider takes up only a minuscule portion of the photograph and is therefore hard to see, but if you click the thumbnail below you can get a better view excerpted from a closer picture that I took during the same photo session.

Joe Lapp informs me that this type of spider is called a mesh web weaver and that it’s in the genus Dictyna within the family Dictynidae. Thanks to Joe, I’ve been able to say more than “Look at the little spider.”

As for the plant, if you focus on the surface texture of the stalk shown here, you can probably understand the mealy in mealy blue sage.


Posted on this date last year: a gorgeous colony of wild sunflowers.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 11, 2012 at 5:49 AM

12 Responses

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  1. Absolutely fascinated by the spider’s design on its back! Took some screenshots of the zoomed image, magnified it more with both PaintShopPro and the Windows 7 snipping tool. The oval makes me think of embroidery or an embroidery design on a cameo. The image looks like a nearly fullbody-length image of a cartoon inking, the upper third of a youngster sneering.


    June 11, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    • Isn’t imagination great? My wife saw the patterns as a heart and a face, and now you’ve added sneering. I was more tuned in to the texture, which for me could indeed have been embroidery. And let’s hand it to the spider for making a cameo appearance in this blog.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM

  2. Well, hello Mr. Spidey! How lovely of you to drop in on Steve’s photo shoot.


    June 11, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    • I find spiders just about every time I go wandering in nature with my camera, as they seem to be or to have been on just about every plant out there. I let them make their presence known in these pages from time to time, but I gather that some readers aren’t as fond of them as you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2012 at 5:36 PM

      • Funny thing is I’ve handled lots and lots of spiders, they’ve crawled on me, landed smack-dab on my nose (as I drive a lawn tractor through their home), found themselves in bed with me, and never ONCE have I been bitten.

        On the contrary, many have been squished just for being themselves and doing nothing. Hm.


        June 11, 2012 at 5:39 PM

  3. Talk about protective coloring!


    June 12, 2012 at 6:38 AM

  4. My first thought was, “That poor little thing needs some web-building lessons”. But of course that’s my perspective. Clearly, that “messy” web does just fine for the spider. Life’s not all about symmetry and photogenic dew drops!


    June 14, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    • No, it isn’t. I much more often encounter “messy” webs than I do the architectural ones that people like to photograph covered in dewdrops, as you noted. I seem to find more prey remains in the “irregular” webs than I do in the geometric ones.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 14, 2012 at 9:58 AM

  5. What a wonderful shot! Love it!


    June 14, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    • Thanks. I see so many spiders when I’m out in nature that I’ve accumulated plenty of pictures of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 14, 2012 at 8:12 PM

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