The Dog Days of August

Darner butterfly and grasshopper in spider web photographed by Jeff Zablow at Rector, PA, 8/22/05

What thoughts shoot through your mind when your trail brings you to this? It’s August in Powdermill Refuge in Rector, Pennsylvania (45 minutes southeast of Pittsburgh). You’ve already noted several large webs, all spun here by Black and Yellow Argiope spiders. Webs were notable for their composition. Each seemed to have its own unique design. Some held tiny insects, other webs, web strands, naked.

This web. Oh, look. Location. location, location, as your realtor will tell you. This female Argiope has the Laurel Highlands equivalent of New York’s Madison Avenue & East 57th Street or crossroads in London, Paris, San Francisco, Mumbai or Munich, the last 5 of which I do not yet know.

This early morning view is an eye full, and a little upsetting. Her strong protein fibers have captured and held an Elisa Skimmer (“widely distributed in northern states and Canada, but seldom becomes abundant” – National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders) and a grasshopper I am not able to identify. The grasshopper has been skillfully wrapped around in numerous web threads, the skimmer has not been wrapped. Both are still and surely gone.

Dreamers who aspire to piloting swift jets daydream of flying with the skill of Elisa skimmer. Field and track athletes certainly admire the feats of a grasshopper. All the soaring and jumping . . . stilled by those mighty threads.

What think you of this scene?

Jeff

NB, I thoroughly admire Argiopes and orb weaver spiders, complicated as these situations can be. Also, that morning, I saw no butterflies in webs. To be honest…Good.

2 thoughts on “The Dog Days of August

  1. Spiders do good by eliminating noxious bugs but, in this case, too bad the beautiful rare skimmer headed in the wrong direction on that day. I love the design of color in it’s delicate wings and body.

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