It’s hunting season locally – guys out with their big weaponry banging away, frightening and killing small animals – but there are other, more primal hunters about as well..though perhaps i should say trapper more than hunter.
A few weeks back a large spider installed herself on my front terrace, weaving a fine web among the geraniums, brilliant in the morning sunlight. Initially it wasn’t easy to locate the builder..but as soon as the first insect became entangled in the silky threads, the web’s denizen rushed out from underneath a nearby leaf and proceeded to wrap up its prey before starting to feed. It was a Cross spider, Spanish araña de la cruz, also known as European Garden spider, quite a large specimen at about 3cm leg to leg, orange in colour and with the very marked and visible white cross on its abdomen. Almost certainly a female due to size – males are smaller – and activity – only large females build webs.
This relatively common spider is also known by another name, the Diadem spider (Araneus diadematus), i suppose deriving from alternative interpretation of the “cross”(?).. Fascinating to observe in action, i cannot recall ever being able to follow the progress of a spider over a 3-4 week period, consistently rebuilding its web and regularly trapping prey of all sorts, flies big and small, wasps, various other flying insects.