The Orb Weavers

Few of us fail to marvel at the beauty of the web structures created by spiders. None is more perfectly engineered than that of the Orb Weaver (Family Epeiridae). Regular in form; these flat, slightly curved sheets of sticky filaments with the zigzag pattern in the center of the web are seldom seen today. Once, Orb weavers were a common sight in vacant fields and hedgerows to those who worked the farm lands or hiked among tall grasses.

The brilliant yellow and black agiope is a large plump Orb Weaver spider. Its long front legs are tipped with feet that have three claws. Argiopes spend much of the time hanging upside down in the center of its web across the zigzag bands. These bands strengthen the net webs. The argiope will hold several of the elastic sticky lines of the web when it is in its corner retreat; vibrations are felt when an insect is entangled in the web. The argiope will quickly dart toward the snared prey. Wrapped in a silken shroud, the prey may be devoured on the spot or stored for a later feast.

Spiders consume vast amounts of insects. Some, such as the Orb Weavers, are used in instinctive behavior research.

Look for the Orb Weaver webs on dew covered grasses during early morning walks. You will soon discover the intriguing world of a few of the smallest forms of Michigan's Watchable Wildlife.