The surprise was the the female with invading A. flavescens had two males interested in the mating game. To watch these two males - and her responses was fascinating to say the least. A couple of kids came around a tossed (unfortunately) a small twig into her web. Not to worry - she moved to the twig, while one male was progressing with the mating game and the other supervised the twig removal. All in all, a very productive day.
Unlike Nephila clavipes that lived in our Charleston SC garden (US), where the males tended to orient themselves perpendicular to the female while watching for the right moment, here the males have the same orientation. Also earlier, I observed spider silk on the backs of a few females that seemed associated with the mating game. Today, there was no such spider silk in evidence.
Here is the context of Nephila 1 - A small web 2 meters above the ground with several invading Argyrodes and two males.
Here is a male approaching the female from above
And retreating for whatever reason
The male on her dorsal side
Here the male is moving toward her cephalothorax. I anticipated some weaving where the male lays a sheet of silk around her head. Not much weaving today, if any. You can see the orange blob behind her spinneret - an out of focus Argyrodes
A better view of a larger male with an Argyrodes in the upper left
Here he is inspecting her ventral surface
And the larger male approaches again. Note the prominent black palp sacs
The smaller male quickly drops with the approach of the larger one (here only the legs of the larger male are evident). How did #1 detect the approach of #2?
The winner of this episode of the competition
with a pair of Argyrodes watching from the side
Another episode - male #2 approaches from above
and walks to her cephalothroax
Both males are now present - one on the ventral side and one on the dorsal side, perhaps thinking about a little weaving action
To the right, about 30 meters was another Nephila pilipes, #2. The sun was oriented so that some of her legs were illuminated (bright orange) while other legs were in the shadow of the sun. Here also are Argyrodes and a male (unseen). The golden texture of her silk is quite apparent
And later - a male on her ventral surface
Back to Nephila #1 - A good view of one male on her dorsal side, two Argyrodes to the right and the other male above.
The #2 male starts to approach
Climbs onto her abdomen near her spinneret
And moves about on her dorsal side while the other male seems to be looking for her epigynum on her ventral side
Just moving about
The dorsal male leaves and here is returning while #2 is on her ventral surface
A couple of kids came over and tossed a small twig into her web - a bit of frustration from me - but a new opportunity to watch debris removal in the middle of the mating game. Here you can see the female manipulating the twig while the male is seen on her ventral surface. The female manages to pull the twig through her web and the drop it (see below) in a manner similar to what I observed with small flowers dropped into a Leucauge web.
Obviously, twig removal requires a supervisor - so here on male is walking about her side while the other male supervises the removal
Here she grabs another section of the twig with her right front leg
while the other male watches from a safe distance
She cuts the strand of silkthat holds the twig in place
and drops the twig
Feeling safe - the other male approaches from above
Gets close to her spinneret
climbs onto her abdomen
Immediately the female responded with ther right rear leg and gave this male the brushoff (blurred region of the male and right rear leg)
He escaped to the side and when she turned around, there was the other male on her ventral surface
All in all, a very interesting day. I have about 2.5 hours of video and will add this after some editing
C. Frank Starmer