Category: Insects

Delilah and Eloise

Hurricanes are named alphabetically. So are my orb weaver spiders. This season, I had the privilege of observing the life cycles of two lovely, leggy ladies, Delilah and Eloise. Perhaps they’re the offspring of Charlotte, the first orb weaver I studied who gave me a deep love and affection for these spectacular creatures. I like to believe they’re part of...

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More than meets the eye

You may recall that a recent post had me waxing poetic about the sparkly dragonflies I chased all around the Ventura settling ponds a couple weeks ago. Smitten I was, indeed, but, as in all fanciful love stories where I’ve been a player, the harsh reality of life suddenly sets in and teaches me a lesson. And being in love...

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Those damn dragonflies!

It was a typical temperate day in Southern California, with the sun tucking her head into the clouds for minutes-long intervals and then re-emerging, as if from a nap, ready to warm the cool air again. Outside the gates to the Ventura settling ponds, there wasn’t even the slightest hint of what lay ahead. In my many years as a...

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Things are seldom as they appear

Sometimes, looking through a 65-mm macro lens is like having a superpower I wish I didn’t have. Lately, it’s torn open a tiny world that seems to be under constant threat of civil war. And as much as I don’t want to take sides, it’s becoming increasingly impossible not to. No matter whether in the big, real world that we’re...

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She’s gone

Charlotte’s gone. I knew the days were closing in when she failed to rebuild her web three nights in a row, but that didn’t make it any easier when I found her missing from her hiding spot in the strawberry tree. All that’s left are the remnants of a spider life well-lived. The tattered web, and its long, sturdy extension...

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Sinister (the stalking of a honeybee)

While exploring the garden today with an assortment of macro lenses, a tiny scene of disproportionately unsettling horror caught my attention. It started innocently enough when a honeybee got ensnared in a small shred of abandoned web. As I considered whether to attempt a rescue operation to free the writhing creature or wait to see if he could vibrate free...

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Fragile existence

Charlotte didn’t consume her old web or rebuild a new web last night. This disturbs me because I’m convinced she went to bed hungry. At nightfall, there was not much more than a tiny nat or two trapped on the sticky strands of her dilapetated web. A web which had taken a substantial beating throughout the day and was literally...

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Can I get a little privacy here?

After 10 days of studying Charlotte, my favorite orb-weaver spider, I was disappointed that I had yet to get a good portrait of her. You know, the kind of professional image that she’d be proud to display on her LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts – assuming spiders had a need for social media. The challenge has been that she’s...

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Nature has a plan

Following the life of a spider is both beautiful and tragic. Yesterday, while I was out walking the dogs, Charlotte caught a majestic monarch butterfly in her web. By the time I noticed, the butterfly had succumbed to her entrapment and was completely motionless. All day I hoped that this would be the last creature to fall prey to Charlotte...

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Probability and luck

Charlotte finally caught a meal last night. I realize now why she builds such a huge web. It’s not because she’s greedy. It’s all about probability and luck. Yesterday, while working at my desk, I watched from my window as several honey bees vibrated themselves out of the web to safety, and even as a moth shed some scales to...

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