Friday, October 4, 2013

Lattice Orbweaver (Araneus thaddeus)

At about 5 mm in length the Lattice Orbweaver is a relatively small spider, and in the field whilst taking these photographs I mistook it for a Six-spotted Orb Weaver. The two species do bear a superficial resemblance to one another, here are some images of Six-spotted Orb Weavers at BugGuide.Net for comparison.

Petite but fearless – driven by hunger and instinct – this little girl kept pressing the attack even though she had literally bitten off more than she could chew. It's unlikely her chelicerae were able to penetrate the ensnared prey's outer integument, and the bumblebee eventually managed to extricate herself and escape without any apparent ill effects.

The colors and patterns of many spiders may vary consideraly but their instincts do not, and one of the distinguishing characteristics of Araneus thaddeus is the lattice-like retreat it builds within a rolled up leaf above its web. This spider did have a redoubt inside a leaf as described, but, not knowing this at the time, I never thought note if the interior was "lattice-like" or take any pictures of it.

Views of the spider's ventral aspect, it definitely looks like a Lattice Orbweaver, the Six-spotted Orb Weaver isn't this boldly marked underneath.

Since the Lattice Orbweaver's retreat is one of the criteria for identifying this species, I returned a couple of days later to the site where the spider was last seen hanging out to take a few photos. The spider appears to have moved on, there was no sign of it anywhere nearby.