Wow, a title with lots of S’s in it 😉 . This sunday a reblog (with a few changes) on a spider I noticed a couple of years ago. After that encounter, I have spotted others and these spiders continue to intrigue me.
When I first noticed this spider, it 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. This went on for some days before I finally decided to try to find out a little bit more about my dear spider friend who made sure no mosquito entered my room. Fortunately, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. It turned out to be a silver-sided sector spider (Zygiella x-notata).
A quick search revealed some nice info about this spider species:
– The English name comes from the architectural style used to build their webs. Those 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.
– Where other spider species need to learn how to catch prey, the silver-sided sector spider knows instinctively how to catch them. 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 to its hideout in a corner near the web 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. Male spiders sure have to do various things to attract females! If mating is succesful, the females will lay eggs and protect them in 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 indeed noticed this behavior. During those conditions, mosquitoes are also low in number, so that makes sense.
– This species is often used in scientific studies. One study found that spiders clean their webs more often when lots of wasps (a predator for them) were around. They probably do this to avoid attracting wasp to bits and pieces of prey. Another study found that prey who were toxic because of what they ate, caused spiders who in turn ate them, to built unuseful, irratic webs afterwards. Like they were on drugs and having a bad trip. That way, less prey were caught. See links below for the articles.