Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘arachnid

Both sides now: an arachnid version

with 36 comments

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.

◊       ◊

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 , , , ,

Green lynx spider with hatchlings

with 36 comments

Click for greater clarity.

On December 1st last year, upon approaching a prairie flameleaf sumac tree (Rhus lanceolata) in Cedar Park to photograph its fall foliage, I noticed that one bunch of leaflets had been pulled together to make a shelter. I soon figured out that a green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans) had created the shelter as a nest. Plenty of hatchlings scurried about, no doubt disturbed by my close presence and the closer presence of my camera.

Of the various pictures I took there, I chose to show this one because the two curved sumac leaflets in the upper right with the hatchlings on them somehow reminded me of a Hokusai wave. (Hey, that’s all the way over in Japan, so my imagination has a right to be far-fetched.)

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 2, 2018 at 4:51 AM


with 31 comments

When I went to Great Hills Park on the morning of March 17th I found many little patches of ground blanketed with drizzle-bejeweled spiderwebs like the ones you saw last time surrounding a straggler daisy. Some of the webs had a noticeably dark funnel, and in one of those I glimpsed a spider waiting deep inside. After I knelt and got close with my camera to take pictures, the vibration from one of my movements prompted the spider to rush out toward what it incorrectly took to be prey, startling me in the process (things are magnified when you look through a macro lens). Fortunately the spider stayed outside the funnel long enough for me to make several portraits of it. I later learned from the BugGuide.net folks that this funnel weaver spider is in the genus Agelenopsis, whose members are called grass spiders.

Two days before my outing in Great Hills Park, Dale and Pat Bulla had alerted me to the National Wildlife Week Photo Contest being held by Austin Parks and Wildlife. I entered this photograph and it ended up winning first place. The picture will appear in the April issue of the Austin Treebune.

Funnel Web Spider in Spiderweb with Drizzle Drops 8222

If you’d like a closer view of this Agelenopsis spider, click the excerpt below.

Funnel Web Spider in Spiderweb with Drizzle Drops 8222 Detail

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 31, 2016 at 4:54 AM

Old and new

with 34 comments

Firewheel Seed Head Remains Cobwebbed by Broomweed Flowers 7161

The old that the title refers to is a dry seed head of Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheel, Indian blanket, and blanket flower. There are two new things: 1) the scaffold of spiderwebs covering the dry stalk and seed head  2) the many small but bright yellow flowers of broomweed, Amphiachyris dracunculoides, out of focus and partly polygonalized in the background.

Any resemblance to “The Starry Night” is purely coincidental; I doubt Van Gogh ever even heard of broomweed and firewheel, much less saw any. The only connection I can make to France, where that painter worked in the final years of his life, is the cul-de-sac at the end of Meister Lane in southeastern Round Rock where I took this photograph on the first day of October.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 24, 2015 at 4:50 AM

Another new place

with 30 comments

Crab Spider on Pink Evening Primrose Flower 4673

So there I was on September 4th working for the second time in a week at a new place, this one the margin of a pond between Dessau Rd. and Knowell Dr. in a recent subdivision on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin. At one point I noticed a couple of pink evening primrose flowers, Oenothera speciosa, that had strayed into reality several months beyond their normal time in the floral calendar here, and when I knelt to photograph one of them I found a crab spider on it. The pointy yellow structure at the bottom of the picture is the sheath that originally enclosed the flower’s bud.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 7, 2015 at 5:21 AM

%d bloggers like this: