Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 1st, 2021

Both sides now: an arachnid version

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On August 19th we started to go out for a walk in the neighborhood. As soon as I raised the garage door, I noticed a black and yellow garden spider, Argiope aurantia, hanging in its web just outside the door frame. Delaying our walk for 10 or 15 minutes, I took pictures of the spider from both sides, as you see here.

The conspicuous white zigzag at the bottom center of the web is called a stabilimentum. According to Wikipedia, its purpose “is disputed. It is possible that it acts as camouflage for the spider lurking in the web’s center, but it may also attract insect prey, or even warn birds of the presence of the otherwise difficult-to-see web. Only those spiders that are active during the day construct stabilimenta in their webs.” You can read the rest of that article for more information, including the various common names people have given this spider.

Let me add two things: the subject of these two portraits has maintained a web in approximately the same place since I first saw it on August 19th, and head-down is the normal stance for these spiders.


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Today, September 1st, marks 82 years since World War 2 began. Referring to that day, W.H. Auden wrote a poem entitled September 1, 1939,” which ends:

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 1, 2021 at 4:16 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

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