What’s in a Name?

Giant Spider photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

I’m working the cut-grass trail that abuts Woody Pond. That’s one of about 5 or 6 ponds in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, just a short distance from the Georgia coast. Magic. Why magic? Magical because every step I took along that trail produced. Laura was correct, this is a serious destination.

Butterflies abounded that late August 2018 week: Palamedes, Cloudless Sulphurs, Gulf Fritillaries, that gorgeous Viceroy, Monarchs, Saltmarsh Skippers, Pipevines, Zebra Heliconians, and such. Bees, flies, wasps, moths and more. The botany was lush and much in bloom: Liatris, native sunflowers, thistles, frogfruit, sumac in bloom and more. Alligators in large numbers, they scaring the bejeebers out of my (me, a grad of Brooklyn’s streets back when) that morning when I was on this very same trail, early, and without warning, what sounded like a 20 foot gator bellowed, nearly at feet . . . and just as suddenly some 7 or 8 male behemoths joined in. I’m thinking how I’ll save myself if they come after me, the cold steel I carry no match for such. G-d was along with me, for I never had to . . .

The birds are the #1 reasons that Refuge is a National Refuge, for birders were there those 4 mornings, this being one of the best Wood Stork Refuges in the USA. Hundreds of wood storks in those rookeries!

On Woody Pond’s trail, I leaned in to get a better look at a Lep, and Holy Spaghetti! I found myself staring right at this. What you see here is almost life-size. Her web strands were yellowish, her abdomen a soothing brownish/oprange, with those comely yellowish spots. Six of her 8 legs had tufts on them. I waited to see if she would resent my Macro- Len’s close approach? I felt like when I was at those Boys’ Club boxing sessions, seeking to learn my opponent’s moves and fakes.

She had a tiny male resting on her abdomen. Tell me about this stark difference in size? I did some reading when I Googled this spider, and I learned. I never knew that there are others species of tiny spiders that earn their sustenance by living close to Big webs like this one, and dash out to grab scraps that the resident spiders overlooks.

This native spider’s name? The Golden Silk Orb-Weaver. Common in the southeastern USA. She and her tiny buddy never reacted to my several approaches. A good, though formidable looking model, she.

Jeff