Spider eats a lightning bug in a thunderstorm


waltbosz says: "I shot this video last night after almost walking through the spider's web while taking out the trash. I thought the combination of the giant spider, lightning bug, and thunderstorm are sort of a amazing coincidence." (Submitterated by waltbosz)

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  1. Awesome! Looks like Araneus cavaticus (also known as the barn spider or if you are an E.B. White fan, Charlotte).

  2. I’ll take his word for it about the thunderstorm. But what’s he shooting it on that has audio that rich?

  3. Yowsah, this is very well done! I tried to capture something similar with the orb weaver who has taken up nightly residence in front of our house (complete with thunderstorm!), but I was less successful partly because I’m a complete arachnophobe and couldn’t bring myself to get up close enough. It doesn’t get much better than a glowing dinner, hehe.

  4. Disturbing. When I see a spider eat a bug I like to think the bug is dead relatively fast. I know it isn’t true, but I’d like to believe it. Watching that warm little glow pulse over and over as it’s being eaten alive? D:

  5. Dit dit dit da da da dit tit dit
    Dammit guys where are you!?
    Dit dit dit da da da dit dit dit dit!!!!!

  6. Just curious… where’s the thunderstorm? I might have a different idea of what thunderstorms are though, I’m from Sydney and we get a lot of thunderstorms, but it sounded more like howling wind than thunder.

  7. waltbosz – thanks for this – where do you live so I know NOT to come for a visit? I really do NOT like spiders and watching this was really hard but I had to try to decipher the morse code from the lightning bug. I couldn’t think well enough to do that, but…

    *still shuddering from the ginormous spider*

    1. I’m in Elsmere, Delaware (right outside Wilmington). It’s actually kinda rare to see a spider that large around here. Even then, it was probably only quarter sized.

  8. I wonder what the lightning bug is signaling. Hopefully it’s more “stay away” and less “I found a ton of free tasty food, hurry over here RIGHT NOW everyone!”

    That would be a jerk thing to do.

  9. Also, my apologizes to any English majors: I should have said “an amazing coincidence”, not “a amazing coincidence”

  10. This gave me the creeps but at the same time, I couldn’t stop watching. Just felt so … final … and weirdly beautiful, but ughhh.

  11. @waltbosz, great vid, even if it makes me want to check the house for any spiders. Are lightning bugs really that bright? Living in the UK I’ve not experienced anything like it.

  12. Anyone else waiting for the bug’s light to dim and finally extinguish like the T-800’s eye?

  13. From Wikipedia:: “…at night will sit in the middle of the web and wait for an insect to land on the web when hunting.”

    Or, string themselves from phone poles and street signs next to sidewalks so people out jogging at night will take it right in the face. So they can try to run up under your hair or down the back of your t-shirt, in the dark. This spider is evil.

  14. “When I see a spider eat a bug I like to think the bug is dead relatively fast. I know it isn’t true, but I’d like to believe it.”

    Depends upon the spider & the prey. Widow spiders (and their Australian cousins) have rather fast acting venom; I’ve seen an adult anole lizard overcome by L. mactans in a matter of minutes.

    Other spiders take quite a bit longer. The house spiders I keep as pets (which happen to be in the same family as the widow spiders) have much less potent venom. It can take an hour (or even longer) for the full process to take effect.

    One thing about the post: I’m not sure it can be called “Spider eats a lightning bug…”

    Yes, the bug was caught in the web. But not all spiders go after firefly beetles; in fact, most would rather avoid them.

    The first time I introduced a firefly to my pet, she quickly bit it and encased it- but about an hour later, the undigested carcass (still in its silk wrappings) was expelled from the web. The second time I tried to introduce a firefly, my spider didn’t even bother to encase it- she retreated and let the bug extricate itself.

    Notice how in the video, the spider makes no motion of encasing the bug. Encasing is a necessary prelude to feeding on it, and the spider would need to immobilize it to prevent it from escaping while the venom takes effect. When a spider is going to feed, the encasing takes place almost immediately.

    It’s entirely possible that this is a video of a spider ignoring an inedible bug in her web during a thunderstorm. Which is still pretty cool nonetheless!

    1. The fact that the spider wasn’t encasing the bug is heartening. Maybe it was a spider/bug stand-off.

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