Spying on a spider

About a month ago I noticed that a spider had settled itself outside my bedroom window. It appeared each night between 20:00-21:00 to build its web and wait for some delicious mosquitoes. The mosquitoes itself appeared around 21:00 to partake in this spider feast. After a while I became curious and tried to find out a little bit more about my dear friend who’s making sure no mosquito is entering my room. It was a sector spider or Zygiella x-notata in Latin. A quick internet search revealed some nice things about this spider species:

– The English name for it comes from their preference to build their webs near windows and those webs are built in such a way that 2 sectors are left without connecting treads. A signaling thread leads to the center and hideout at the top of the web where it alarms the spider whenever something gets stuck in its web.

– Apparently, this spider knows instinctively how to catch prey; other species need to learn this. When the spider is alarmed by a prey that’s stuck, it immediately goes toward it, kills it and wraps it up in silk. Then it takes it back to the center where it will eat it or save it for later.

– The better a male spider is in building a web, the more attractive it is to females. The females will lay eggs which are protected by a cocoon. This will ensure that the eggs hatch the following spring.

– This spider loves warmth, so in countries with a warmer climate you can find them all year round. In moderate climates they can be seen from June to October. In relation to this, the spider will not show itself when there is a strong wind and/or rain. I’ve also noticed this behavior.

– This species is often used in scientific studies. See links below for a couple of examples of how prey taste can affect spider web building and the spider’s reaction to wasp (a predator for them).

So I first noticed this spider in August. After a couple of weeks, it got company from another spider, I suspect from another gender because of the size differences (males are smaller). Not much later I saw in the upper corner of my window a spider egg cocoon. Unfortunately, the window had to be repainted and the painter removed all spiders & webs, so my beloved spiders came to a tragic end 😦

R.I.P!

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More info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zygiella_x-notata

http://www.eurospiders.com/Zygiella_x-notata.htm

http://www.springerlink.com/content/ut03846286p47737/

http://www.springerlink.com/content/b861137713193345/

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