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280 days of Urbpandemonium #153

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One of the greatest joys in my life is encountering a living thing I've never seen before. I smugly thought I knew basically all the spiders in the Boston area. Why had I never seen this gorgeous gem of an animal before? Most of the spiders I'm familiar with are adapted to hunting near human-altered microhabitats: path edges, windowsills, cellars, hedges.

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Micrathena gracilis* hunts in the shady understory of the forest, the kind of microhabitat that humans tend to reduce with their activities. Fortunately this spider can still be found along its extensive range, from Boston to Lake Michigan, south to Costa Rica. The distinctive spiny abdomen of the female appears to be visually protective, breaking up the spider's outline, while the color helps her blend in with the dappled light of the understory.

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Her web is a dense orb angled to catch passing flies. Each night she consumes the whole thing (but for some structural threads) and rebuilds it each day. Males, as in most spiders, are smaller duller creatures, that lack the female's distinctive appearance and do not build webs.

* Slender tiny goddess of weaving.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 24th, 2015 06:10 am (UTC)
Should be megapygus: she got a big booty so I call her big booty

Edited at 2015-08-25 03:28 pm (UTC)
Aug. 27th, 2015 01:24 am (UTC)
That's very beautiful, like a delicate seashell. I moved 4 or 5 miles away last summer, from a place I lived in for 35 years and was quite aware of all the species of critters that inhabited that area but even a 4 mile distance away has shown so many different bugs and birds and other little creatures that I had not seen before. It's probably more to do with location than distance. The old place was on a 66 acre cow farm at sea level and my now place is halfway up a mountain. Also, I now live in a basement suite which has its own creepy inhabitants (besides me) in attendance. Walking through the forest up in the mountainous terrain has different fungi, flora and fauna than my walks through the old forests I frequented. As an example, I came across a wonderful splorch of dog slime on a fallen log that I had never seen before. I took a pic and google imaged it and guess who turned up as the first link? This very LJ and I realized after reading the entry for it, I had read it before in your journal. :)
Aug. 27th, 2015 10:32 am (UTC)
Thanks for that story! That makes me very happy :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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