Spines in Your Face

Spined Micrathena

Spined Micrathena

Yesterday while walking along a path in the woods, I encountered a spider web at about head height along the trail. I suppose it is one of the “hazards” of summer woods-walking around here. But I always enjoy seeing who the maker is and what they have had for dinner. This one was the tightly woven web of one of the most common, and unusual, spiders in this area – the Spined Micrathena. Females of these oddly-shaped spiders are adorned with stiff spines along the abdomen, presumably as protection against predators. Males are much smaller and lack the spines. Webs are typically 3 to 7 feet off the ground and strung between small trees and shrubs, often along pathways, perfect for ensnaring small flying insects or distracted woods-walkers. Luckily, these beautiful creatures are harmless, unless you are the size of a leafhopper.

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