Photo Adventures with Curiosity and Learning

October 30, 2014:Argiope aurantia building a web

Several days ago - my morning photo shoot coincided with Argiope aurantia completing her web rebuilding and writing her web decorations - (stabilimenta) - so for several days I tryed to catch this event to better record. Yesterday I went at 7am and she was completing the building of her web. She completed it by 8:45. I watched for half an hour and nothing. So I went home, took a shower and returned. She had completed her web decorations - oh sigh sigh double sigh. So this morning I tried again. I have been watching 2 A. aurantia - Argiope 1 had completed her web rebuilding and decorations shown here.

oct 30 5116 argiope 1 completed stabilimenta

There seem to be several stages in Argiope web building:
  1. Destroying the old web
  2. Depositing old silk in the center of the web superstructure
  3. Building the new web - radial and circumferential fibers
  4. After the web is complete, ingesting the old silk and waiting
  5. After a suitable time - so that I can make no fixed schedule, she starts moving to the bottom of the web
  6. She starts extruding a ribbon of silk and attaches it to a junciton of radial and circumferential strands (I think)
  7. She writes a zig-zag pattern, using her back legs to guide and attach the ribbon (extruded as a continuous ribbon - not segments

Argiope 2 was completing her web building but not yet starting her decorations (stabilimenta) - I returned home, fetched a lawn chair to address comfortable waiting.

I set up in front of her web - and within 20 min, she started eating her old silk - I suppose this is a recycle exercise. I made a video (below) - then after maybe 10 min - for digestion, I suppose, she started her painting with ribbons of silk.

Here is her web prior to writing

oct 30 5113 argiope before stabilimenta

Argiope 2 doing something

oct 30 5124 argiope 2 web mending

More web weaving

oct 30 5126 argiope 2 weaving

Recycling silk - she is pulling old silk from the central part of her web with her palps and eating it

oct 30 5131 argiope 2 recycling silk

Here is the video of recycling silk

Here is an image of extruding a ribbon of silk. Web prep is from 0:0 to 0:40 and writing the ribbon starts at 0:40

oct 30 5133 extruding ribbon

A cropped version showing more detail of extracting silk and guiding it with her legs

oct 30 5133 extruding ribbon close

Another view - but poor focus on her spinnerets

oct 30 5136 extruding close

Here is a video of ribbon writing - extruding the band of silk, guiding it with her legs and depositing it on her web

Extruding silk ribbons and attaching to her web

oct 30 5136 extruding ribbon

Closer view

oct 30 5137 extruding attaching close

Starting the stabilimenta - web decorations (purpose not really understood)

oct 30 5141 start stabilimenta

Extruding ribbon for the upper stabilimentum

oct 30 5143 extruding ribbon upper

Finishing writing the upper stabilimentum

oct 30 5146 finish stabilimenta

Finishing writing the upper stabilimentum

oct 30 5150 finished stabilimenta

The web of Argiope 1.

oct 30 5154 argiope 1 stabilimenta

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C. Frank Starmer