Photo Adventures with Curiosity and Learning

June 12, 2007:Leucauge dromedaria: web cleaning

This was a fun day. Tomorrow we return to Singapore and back to work and significantly reducing time available for exploring spider behavior. Visiting Rachel and Trevor has been fun, Maxwell's birthday was more fun but discovering new behavior with Maxwell's curious eyes was the best. Here is a short story of both intelligent behavior as well as house cleaning.

After Maxwell and I accidently viewed the initial episode of mating between an anxious male and a reluctant female, I returned yesterday to capture the next chapter with my video camera. Because it rained all night - the old web was gone and a new web in its place. I captured 1% action and 99% on station for about 3 hours. During this time, though, I discovered that if I dropped a small flower into her web, she would rapidly move toward it, then discover it was not an insect, wrap it and then drop it out of her web. Thus house cleaning.

I returned today with video camera and Rachel's D70 and my new Tamron 180mm macro lens. I set up, dropped a flower, captured the action with video and then repeated the flower drop in order to capture the main events with still shots. Here is the story.

Our little (8mm L. dromedaria) on station.

jun 12 3391 leucauge center

There was a new ?. unknown in the background, discovered when I accidentally focused the lens behind L. dromedaria

jun 12 3394 unknown

Here are two photos from the video camera with the L. dromedaria in the focal plane and the ?. unknown behind the focal plane.

Leucauge dromedaria

and here, L. dromedaria is in front of the focal plane and ?. unknown is in the focal plane

Unknown spider

After dropping the flower, she started wrapping it

jun 12 3406 wrapping

and wrapping

jun 12 3407 wrapping

Then returned to her web central positon. So here is the flower

jun 12 3408 flower

Then I dropped a 2nd flower and she returned

jun 12 3414 2nd flower

linked both and continued wrapping and a bit of web repair.

jun 12 3415 wrapping two

more wrapping

jun 12 3416 wrapping two

Here you can see her stabilizing her position with her dragline (from her spinneret) as she worked. The flower is now below the plane of her web

jun 12 3417 dragline attached

More wrapping

jun 12 3418 wrapping

and wrapping

jun 12 3419 wrapping

and wrapping

jun 12 3420 wrapping

And now the two flowers are coupled

jun 12 3421 coupled

Here she is preparing to cut the strand

jun 12 3422 cut strand

and drop the flowers.

jun 12 3423 drop flowers

Watch a similar episode from the video. This was a challenge. I have a new Sony HD-SR1 high definition camera with hard disk. Sony records the video as an m2ts file. Fortunately, I found a set of open source tools (m2tstoavi) for converting the files to avi. They were huge. So I recoded as an mpeg - which is 18 Mb long. But you'll get the main idea.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer