Argiope Fills a Lull

Argiope Spider Re-visiting Prey photographed by Jeff Zablow in Kelso Swamp, Fayette Township, PA

Squads of butterflies would fly in, sip nectar from flowers, search or reconnoiter. We’re in Traci’s Kelso Swamp on an early September morning, Southwestern Pennsylvania. Minutes later they’d be . . . gone. Gone where? Who knows?

Search as you might, there’d be no butterflies to be seen for some 10 to 15 minutes. That’s when you start noticing the other residents at the swamp’s edge. Most memorable were those Black and Yellow Argiopes, the huge garden spiders that build their webs 2-4 feet across from one plant to another. We had laughed days before, when I reported to blog readers that the web ‘silk’ of Georgia’s southern argiopes tasted exactly like the silk of these Allegheny county spiders.

It is difficult to capture a good photograph of one of these argiopes. This one had ensnared prey on its web. She was headed over to it once again, to feed, tend or check the permanence of this capture. Ok, I had a lull in my wingedbeauty butterfly photography action, and Ms. Argiope was a looker. I could get into a good position for myself. Let’s see what we can do here.

Argiopes are native, handsome, and remind us of the need for preparation, dedication and patience. Much as it pains viewers to see these spiders at their work, it is vital for insect population dynamics.

I saw Star Wars 7, the one that just came out. As I recover from that experience, Argiopes kind of make sense.

Jeff