Observation of the Week, 1/12/17

This Sheetweb or Dwarf Weaver Spider, seen by @zanskar on the island of Corsica, is our Observation of the Week!

“As far as I can remember I always was in the field, searching for new animals to watch, mostly birds with my brother, [who was] crazy about nature too,” says David Renoult (aka zanskar). As an adult, David is a school teacher, but “[every] time I can (and it's quite often on this island dedicated to Nature) we go out as a family, with my wife and our 7 year old boy, to enjoy anything we can encounter, from orchids, to bugs, to moths.”

He found this tiny Sheetweb spider in November, and recalls spotting the small web because it was covered with dew. “It was several weeks before Christmas and this spider seemed to me arranging its Christmas balls in its sticky tree...it was wonderful!”

There are over 4,000 species in the Linyphiidae family of spiders (also called money spiders), and due to their extremely small size (many are 3 mm or less), identification and taxonomy is very difficult. Many weave a sheet-like dome web and hang upside-down in the middle. If a prey animal lands on the web, the spider will dash over and bite it through the silk. They are also famous for their mass “ballooning” behavior; young spiders will climb to the tops of plants and release a strand of silk into the air, and when the silk is caught by the wind, it will take them away to a new place, allowing the spiders to populate a wider area.

David has been using iNaturalist for about a year now, and says “I hope more and more people will share their observations on inaturalist, to have a whole and more accurate vision about the biodiversity we have a stone’s throw from home or at the other end of the world. Because I consider this is really what iNaturalist is: a way be filled with wonder before the boundless imagination of nature, and the less the human beings will be ignorant of this biodiversity, the more we will be able to preserve it for the next generations.”

- by Tony Iwane

English is not David’s first language, and I’ve done some light editing of his quotes for this piece.


- David Attenborough walks through a silken field of ballooning spiders.

- Great footage and explanation of how sheetweavers’ webs work.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, January 12, 2017 23:31

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