These spiders turned into a real adventure. Initially I thought that they
were juvenile females. But they never developed into full grown females.
Also they exhibited a very interesting high frequency lateral vibration
of their body when I plucked one of the supporting elements of their web.
I thought that this might be a defence mechanism. I thought it was lost
as they matured, but this turned out to be incorrect. I observed this
with Susan this fall - Her oscillation
rate was quite slow (as you can see from the video) but nevertheless,
was still available.
Laura bathed in flash:
Her growth and development while hiding in our garden. (July 8:
While exploring other sites, I came across other
photos of Nephila clavpies indicating that my Laura, is possibly
a male and that I have misidentified her/him.
Hi - my name is Laura and I am a very quiet banana spider
(Nephila clavipes). Frank found me one afternoon, soon
after I was born and started weaving my web. My web is 3 dimensional,
but the business part of my web is a planar structure of the finest
golden silk. Even though I am quite young, I know how to build a web,
how to repair it and how to catch dinner. Below is Frank's story.
(These photos were taken with a partially occluded flash to avoid
washout. Nikon 5700, manual focus, Gimp unsharp mask for post processing.)
It has been almost 2 years since I first found
Natasha in our garden. Natasha
was a fully matured golden silk spider (banana spider or
technically Nephila clavipes) and she was quite large (about
10 cm if you include her legs). I never saw any males with her and
wondered what would appear next (2003) year. Well, nothing
appeared. Every day I walked past her home - looking inside
the bush to see if there were any new children hiding. Every day
I found nothing.
This spring, Gene sent me a photo of an egg sack
which showed many many micro-spiders inside. Unfortunately, they disappeared.
I was encouraged, though, and started looking everywhere in our garden to
find a similar egg sack. Nothing!
This year, I have continued my search.
Each day as I walk to work, I walk along our drive which is lined with
small bushes. I look in, around, under - just about everywhere -
for any signs of spider life.
Yesterday I saw a small web - not well organized - more like
a cob web. But I looked closely and saw some small flowers caught in the
web. Then suddenly there was Laura, thin, beautiful and with unusual
(see Florida Nature photo).
She was only about 1 cm long and the diameter of her thorax
must be no more than 2 mm. So I started to take some photos.
Photographically, with a digital camera, the focus is a
problem - as the auto focus wants to grab the edge of a leaf
or some other object that shows a sharp change in contrast.
I used the manual focus and had a small success. Here are the results.
Laura bathed in natural light: May 23, 2004
The above photos were taken with a flash, with my finger covering half
the flash in order too much light (the camera lens is about 10 cm from
Laura). Here is a photo taken in natural light - a bit blurry, because
the wind moves the web and I am unable to remain still while bending
over the flowers to take the photos.
Laura's sister, Anda, Jun 04, 2004
Here are Laura's sisters, Anda and Lumi (
I found her this morning with a wonderful
web built on the iron fence in front of our home. It is exposed to the
sidewalk so I am not sure how long she will survive - but just now, she
is enjoying her home. She is about 2x larger than I am - probably
because Anda has access to a greater insect population.
See the scale on the left. I am about 1/2 the size of Anda (sigh).
Laura says bye-bye and Lumi sticks around
Rather strong rain attacked Charleson on June 17 and 18. When we returned
on Sunday, June 20, I, of course, toured our garden. Laura and her web were
absent, but Lumi was still in her place - catching dinner, repairing her
web and posing for photos.
Laura's friends in Florida
May 25 we drove Plant City, Florida in order to help with a friend's
wedding. We stayed in Waldon Lake and there is a nice lake with jogging trail
around it. One afternoon, I decided to walk along the trail and look for
some banana spiders, assuming that they would be much larger than thoses
in Charleston - since the spring started earlier here. To my surprise,
I found many
clusters of webs - where each cluster consisted of the typical
planar web, surrounded by a tangle of other fibers. In each cluster,
I found 1 or 2 spiders and several skeletons.
Initially I thought they were all juvenile Nephila clavipes but
there was something different and it turned out that they were
something quite new for me and my curious eyes: