Nightmare scenario (with spider)
While relaxing the other evening in a lounge chair out by our garden shed, I happened to glance backward over my right shoulder — probably to trace the path of a hummingbird flitting from one salvia bloom to the next — and noticed a rather large zig-zagging spiderweb stretched between two bare branches of a bush.
Furthermore, it had a large spider in the center of it.
The rather prosaically named black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) appears anything but prosaic to the startled observer who almost blunders into its extensive and intricate webbing. In fact, it looks quite fearsome — the stuff of nightmares and bad sci fi movies from the ’50s.
I’ve observed this particular spider (a female, I learned from my web browsing, the male of the species being far less striking in appearance) for several days now, snapping the occasional picture and rejecting each one as not quite dramatic enough for prime time. This morning, however, I saw that the she-beast had captured something large and spun it up in her webbing.
Closer examination determined the unfortunate captive to be a grasshopper, as I deduced from the prominent thorax and folded-up hind legs.
I can’t say I was sorry to see our garden’s grasshopper population decreased by one — it has been a bad year for grasshoppers (or a good one, depending upon which side of the grasshopper genome one resides on). But, still: what a way to go! AARGH!