Last week we had company from a Golden silk orb spider – a very common spider in the Americas. I call her Bella, because she is a beautiful spider if you ask me : a shapely body with some nice curves and colours. Long, slender leggs with yellow spots and leg warmers. She looks very dangerous as well, but she is not poisonous to humans. We noticed her one day and started observing her and her web a bit.
I occasionally ‘hit my head’ against the web. It didn’t hurt obviously but I just wanted to express how strong the threads are. Apparently, it is eight times stronger than steel. When we walk to the beach in the morning, we usually have to tear some nets of her sisters. You can actually hold a thread in two hands and feel the resistance when you pull. The threads have a golden glow, so it is tempting to make clothes out of it, but somehow it is difficult. Today at the Jaguar Rescue Center, I heard that they are trying to make bullet proof material out of the threads.
Bella usually does not move. Just sits still in the middle of her web until a prey gets entangled. Then she moves lightning fast on those long legs, catches the prey, wraps it and stores it somewhere on the web and goes back to the center to wait for the next. At one point, we saw her eating one of her stored preys when another got caught. Within ten seconds, she left her food, processed the other fly and immediately went back to her dinner.
After two days, Bella got company from a male. The males of the golden silk orbit spider are markedly smaller than the females. We saw only one, but apparently, normally there are more. How they decide who gets to mate is a bit complicated, but there is a good chance for the males that they survive the event. They wait until the female is eating, which is when she is less aggressive. I find them quite courageous.