Thursday, July 7, 2011

Camo Spider

I’m beginning to see the appearance of large spider webs being constructed in the woods. I try not to disturb the webs as I’m walking, but it’s sometimes hard to see where they are. Here a spider has constructed its web between some dead tree limbs, an effective way to keep it from decorating the front of my shirt.

The web at first appears to be an undefined collection of silken strands. The collection of debris in the web makes you think it’s been here for a long time.

From a different angle, I it’s clear that part of the web is a typical orb pattern. I followed all of the strands out to their point of attachment on the branches, but could find nowhere that the spider might be hiding. Perhaps the web was abandoned.

Several insects were hung up among the random strands behind the orb. To my untrained eye, the insects seemed to be fresh. I assume that they would have been snagged by the orb web and then transferred to this location. That would mean the recent presence of a spider.

Looking more closely at the debris reveals the spider. This is a good example of hiding right out in the open. A bird or other predator may see the debris but not recognize it as a hiding place for spiders. I used to employ this same principle in elementary school when I chose not to return to class after recess. If I merged with another class, I became virtually invisible on the playground. My teacher and the vice-principal didn’t expect me to be “hiding” in the middle of a game of dodgeball, so they would walk right by as they checked the more secluded hiding spots. Many predators hunt in certain ways and in certain places. Potential prey items that avoid those specific situations can increase their chances of evading capture.

This spider does a superb job of blending in with the debris. Those tan colored markings blend perfectly with the dried cedar needles. Every part of the spider matches some part of the debris bundle. I’m always amazed by behavioral adaptations such as this that improve the animal’s chances of survival.


  1. Hi Steve ...did you come visit my blog yesterday just to "lure" me over to yours only to find a know how I feel about them!! yikes!!
    (said the spider to the fly)!! haha!!
    He can camouflage all he wants,but I would see him...

  2. You must have been a whole bunch of fun in school! ;)

  3. Very cool, and funny to learn you were such a rebel, haha!~ Janet C.

  4. Hi, grammie g. I read your blog all the time. I just don't comment very often because it takes my rural internet system such a long time to connect with other blogs. I should have warned you about the spider.

    Hi, Lois. I always thought I was a lot of fun. Those trying to control me often thought otherwise.

    Hi, Janet. I don't think I even knew what a rebel was back then. I just wanted to do my own thing and never had a good reason not to.