Alan Dean Foster: Predators I Have Known - orb weaver spider

predators-i-have-known.jpg orb-weaver-spider.jpg

Humans are such visual creatures. Take away big eyes (baby seals) and fur (most mammals) and often what is left is the ick factor.

Not many creatures have a bigger ick factor than the spider. It seems like the more legs an animal has, the more alien it appears to humans. In that regard the centipede and the millipede have spiders beat. But spiders also have multiple eyes, and poison fangs: the words "poison" and "fangs" being enough to send any creature to the top of most folks' ick list.

Inhabitants of the U.S. and Western Europe have enough issues dealing with spiders of modest size. Those of us who dwell in the American Southwest can speak of silk-spinners boasting considerably more impressive dimensions. You have to go to the tropics of the world, though, to find the size champions of the spider world. Spiders whose legspan easily exceeds that of your open, spread palm. In contrast to the majority of popular feelings they regretfully inspire, these rainforest denizens are often startlingly beautiful.



    All spider posts must have a unicorn chaser!

    Now I have to go eat some chocolate and it’s all your fault.

      1. Do you really think I’m going to go look at whatever godawful monster you’ve linked to?

        To ‘shop anything, I’d have to look at it more. Not gonna happen.

        1. If it’s any consolation, the one he linked to would have happily gobbled down several of the ones you did see for breakfast.

      1. That unicorn spider is proof of intelligent design. If you assume that God is actually Hieronymus Bosch.

  2. I remember a black and yellow garden spider that lived next to our house (Upstate New York) that I remember as being bigger than my palm, though my eyes were bigger and my palms much smaller than now. Likely has grown in my memory over the years too. Liked to eat japanese beetles.

  3. Most spiders, once they spin a web, stay put. You find them, you go around them, problem solved. Centipedes, OTOH, don’t stay put, and they are sneaky things that patrol looking for AAIGHHH!

  4. Centipedes also have fangs and poison, and when they get to be a foot long like in the Bahamas, you don’t worry about the spiders any more.

  5. Don’t let the cute smile or the tiny size fool you.

    If you’ve ever seen them in action, these guys are fearsome predators.

    I’ve seen one leap into the middle of another spider’s web because it wanted a quick lunch.

    1. You wouldn’t survive where I live. I have black widows, tarantulas and scorpions. All of which are less upsetting that the solfugids.

  6. I live in Japan. Don’t be telling me about big bugs. I know big bugs. There are five of them doing the macarena on my futon right now.

      1. Crunking comes in June and July. April and May is the watusi. August and September it’s whatever that is Soulja Boy does.

        1. Oh – forgive my ignorance of the seasons of dance in Japan.

          re: “Add that and the most poisonous snakes in existence and you see why Australians are so cranky”

          The rejected slogan the Australian Tourist Board came up with was, “Australia. If we didn’t kill ya, we made ya stronger. Or maybe in a venom induced coma.”

  7. Do NOT take the Lord’s, Hieronymus Bosch, name in vain!

    Man I love that guy. It was awesome to see one IRL.

    I have a much smaller species of orb weaver that makes some cool webs near my front door. I have a garden spider that I swear to god is trying to capture me while I mow.

    Re: The unicorn


    It’s a Harvester – here are more that are even more fucking bizzare:

    Arthropods – because god thought we should have a whole phylum from his nightmares.

  8. We have goldern orbs in our garden in far north Queensland – they’re big but harmless. They do have the habit of making really big, sticky, make-body-armour-out-of-it strong webs at head height across paths, which *really* ticked off the pool guy early one morning.

  9. Size doesn’t particulary concern me considering my back yard is home to a myriad of Sydney Funnel-web spider (the most poisonous in the world) and countless rice-grain sized Redback spiders :(

    Add that and the most poisonous snakes in existence and you see why Australians are so cranky

  10. @Keith
    I am in SE NC and every summer, about 20 of those things set up shop around my house.

    I believe that Ungoliant lives in the woods nearby and sends her children after me every year. One day I will wake up to find my entire house encased. Until then I eliminate those things with extreme prejudice.

  11. Golden Orbweavers are lovely, and very handy around the garden. I’d much sooner have one of these than redbacks or funnel webs.

    Besides, the looks on our Kiwi friends’ faces when they see it are *priceless*.

  12. If I’m thinking of the same golden orb weavers, I’ve always thought their genus name–“Nephila”–was lovely. It sounds so regal, which fits their stature.

    Of course I’m a huge fan of all spiders. Once, while moving some equipment in the backyard, I killed a black widow. I still feel bad about it.

  13. Yeah, Nephilas are really nice, but I really hate running into their nets – they tend to build them on paths. The material is really tough, it’s like running into that food wrapping plastic. Plus, there is a panicked spider the size of a dinner plate somewhere on your hat.

    1. Your hat if you’re lucky >.o
      That’s my only real gripe with spiders – the persistent webs across paths. Back in TX, I used to hit webs on the same path both going out to get the newspaper *and* walking back to the house. Freaking fast little buggers.

      Actually, my only complaint with spiders these days is that they make my wife panic >.> that’s annoying as snot to deal with.

  14. Horrible. Just. . .horrible.

    All of ’em. Jumping spiders are to cute as Joan Rivers is to hot.

    And as for that Golden Finch Killing Spider: I would sooner box a cassowary, lick a poison arrow frog or poke a grizzly cub with a stick then let one of those things even TOUCH me.

    Go ahead, evicerate me. Death by agonizing paralisis? I could deal with that too. Mauled and eaten by incenced mama grizzly (of the non-Palin species) would still be preferable to a lifetime of petite mal seizures, sweaty sleepless nights and foul dreams of those skittering jointed legs and undulating pedipalps. . .Aaacggkkphht how awful.

  15. Salticidae are adorable little leaping muppets. I mean, look at those soulful eyes! If you want nightmares, look up close at a housefly. Or, if you’re really wanting to shatter your delusions for once and for all, take a very close-up look at the face of a lovely Monarch Butterfly as it feeds on a flower.

    (This latter is very instructive, especially if you extrapolate out to the beautiful humans you see from afar in movies, posters, etc)

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