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Right in my Own Backyard - The Wonder of Spider Webs - by Brandt Carter
posted: Aug. 04, 2022

Right in my Own Backyard header

The Wonder of Spider Webs

I am mesmerized by the beauty and artistry of spider webs - a recurring subject for photographers and artists. Web designs always catch my eye. One morning while driving to an art fair, I happened to pass a massive web blanketing a grassy knoll as I exited an interstate. This web was illuminated by early morning sun and covered with glistening dew drops. It was one of those natural phenomena that's never faded in my memory.
Let me be quick to add that spider webs can also be annoying. I don't know how many times I have been gardening away - "in the zone" - only to look up and catch a huge web with my head. As much as I dislike the sensation of a web in my face or hair, I feel guilty for disrupting the intricate mass and wasting a work of nature.
Did you know that the web begins with one thread? The spider casts the adhesive thread from her spinner and with the help of the wind and chance, it sticks to a twig or branch. She then walks over the thread and weaves a strong primary line. She hangs a thread in the shape of a Y below the first thread and off she goes, weaving her silken pattern.
The web, with all its symmetry and beauty, is also deadly. Look at one closely, and you may well see it holds insect carcasses. For spiders, the web can be an efficient way to trap prey for food. A friend told me he once found a baby hummingbird entangled in a spider web in his yard. Taken off guard at first, he gathered his wits and carefully extracted the hummingbird from the sticky threads and then fed the fledgling sugar water for more than 24 hours until it could be released safely.
While not all spiders in our yards make webs, those that do rebuild them quite often, sometimes eating the old one as a source of energy for building the new. We can marvel at webs if we will but sharpen our attention to this activity going on so very quietly in our backyards.

Brandt Carter, artist, herbalist, and naturalist, owns Backyard Birds at 2374 E. 54th Street. Visit her web site Email your bird questions to
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