Mother & Daughter Naturalists Come Across an Orbweaver Hiding in a Moth Cocoon! - Observation of the Week, 5/10/20

This Larinioides orbweaver spider, hiding out in a moth cocoon, is our Mother’s Day Observation of the Week! Seen in the United States by @wildcarrot while she was out withher mom. 

“My earliest memories in nature are of my mom taking me out in the backyard in, what seemed like, the middle of the night with flashlights (though it was probably more like 9pm),” recalls Meghan Cassidy (@wildcarrot). Meghan and her mom watched in wonder as cicadas made their way out of the ground and then out of their nymphal shells. “My mom is the biggest reason I’m in love with and eternally curious about the natural world.”

Lately, that curiosity has been mainly directed at spiders. “My free time in the last few years has been devoted to learning about these fascinating, yet vastly misunderstood, creatures,” Meghan explains.  

iNaturalist has immensely helped me with learning more about the beautiful spiders all around me, and has enhanced my passion for these little ones. I’m able to not only learn by assisting with identifications on iNat of the variety of spiders living in the US, but also by forming connections with those users on iNaturalist who are much more knowledgeable about arachnids than myself!

I was able to iNat with Meghan a few years ago in Texas, along with others in the Texas iNat crew. But while she lives in Texas, Meghan decided to stay with her family in the northeastern state of Delaware during the lockdown, where she and her mother Rose (@wild_irish_rose) participated in the City Nature Challenge. “Since we were both off from work,” Meghan explains, “my mom and I planned some fun outings to natural places in Delaware we’ve never had a chance to explore before.” One of those places was Killens Pond State Park, where the two spent several hours exploring. Meghan focused on finding as many spiders as possible. “I always check man-made structures for spiders and other arthropods, and I’m so glad I did!

I noticed in the corner of the sign an odd looking cocoon with a hole in the top. I had my mind set on finding spiders this weekend, so I took a quick picture to document to iNat and was getting ready to move on until something dark moving quickly by the cocoon caught my eye. I slowly moved in closer and that’s when I spotted not a moth, but this beautiful young orbweaver using the dried cocoon as a shelter! As I got closer, she closed her legs nearer to her body, trying to disappear and protect herself from view of the giant predator (me)! After our photo shoot, I let her be to do what spiders do.

The spider she photographed is a member of the genus Larinioides, part of the orbweaver family (Araneidae). They’re well known for inhabiting structures - for example, Larinioides sclopetarius is commonly known as the “bridge spider” - and Meghan tells me “They will usually hide in a silken retreat (typically of their own making) during the day, and come out to build their large orb webs in the early evenings to capture food...It seems this one was taking advantage of the real estate left behind by the moth.” While not native to the new world, Larinioides spiders are quite widespread across North America.

Meghan (above, with her mother) says that iNaturalist has “vastly changed my perception of the world around me! I talk it up to everyone I know and lots of people I meet while in parks, and I wear my new iNaturalist shirt frequently because I love getting questions about it!

Now, I am always on the lookout for new life that I’ve never documented before, or organisms that I have no knowledge of so I can learn more about them. I can’t begin to quantify the amount I’ve learned in the last 5 or 6 years solely because of iNaturalist, and also because of the valuable relationships I have been able to make with other “nature nerds” on the platform!

- by Tony Iwane.


- You can check out Meghan’s photos on Flickr and Instagram!

- A Larinioides cornutus spider dines on a crane fly in this video.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, May 11, 2020 01:10

Comments

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Awesome! So cool! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by allycouch 22 days ago (Flag)
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Great! We need more Moms like Meghans'!! Fascinating observation, too!

Posted by katharinab 22 days ago (Flag)
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Pretty cool! Thanks for sharing with us!

Posted by feistyone 22 days ago (Flag)
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Fantastic find! Glad you can spend this time exploring nature with your Mom. Mine is in heaven now, but she's the reason I know so many names for wildflowers and edible plants.

Posted by botanicaltreasures 22 days ago (Flag)
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Ahh Wild! That is so cool and I am so happy that you got to spend time with your awesome super citizen science Mom! :)
Awesome photos!
The kids(significant others) and I went for the annual Mother's Day Hike. Looked for bees and a puzzle project for drooping trilliums care of @ddennism.

Carol

Posted by carolr 21 days ago (Flag)
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A magnificent anecdote! I also love how this platform can bring people together and teach so much about our natural world.

Posted by koaw 21 days ago (Flag)
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I love this story about mother/daughter adventure! Thanks for sharing @wildcarrot and @wild_irish_rose, and way to represent for Delaware in the City Nature Challenge!

Posted by carrieseltzer 21 days ago (Flag)
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It bummed me out that @wildcarrot wasn't in the DFW metroplex this year for the City Nature Challenge, but to see those observations coming in from the northeast made me tremendously happy! :) If you don't follow Meghan here on iNat, you totally should -- her photos and observations are simply phenomenal!!! :)

Posted by sambiology 21 days ago (Flag)
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Just a perfect Mother's Day story! (My grandmother was my pre-iNaturalist mentor!) Beautiful and moving . . .

Posted by sadawolk 21 days ago (Flag)
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My mum taught me the names of about 20 wildflowers, but my real mother has always been Mother Nature. :)

Posted by susanhewitt 21 days ago (Flag)
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Compliments!!

Posted by umby71 21 days ago (Flag)
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Such a great observation and a wonderful story! Thanks for making me smile.

Posted by amzapp 21 days ago (Flag)
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I like this! Made me smile+a cool spider!

Posted by dragonscale 21 days ago (Flag)

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