Last month we were graced with a nightly visitor, a nocturnal orb weaver. Each night, as darkness began to fall, she would begin her work. First she would sweep down from the porch roof to the side of the house, laying her first thread. Then she would begin spinning and weaving: up and down and around, back and forth she would go. When she was finished she had spun a massive web several feet wide and deep.
She would then sit in the center of her creation and wait patiently for some unsuspecting insect to fly into her lair. Then she would pounce, first immobilizing her visitor then wrapping her prey in silk. Sometimes she would leave him suspended and return to her waiting and watching. Sometimes she would devour him on the spot. Every morning, both she and the web would be gone, only to reappear again at dusk. Until one night a couple of weeks ago, as the evenings became cool, she came out, but didn’t weave as usual. Her web was only a few strands, suspended in a haphazard crescent from the middle of the porch roof, and she looked much fatter- I suspect she had an egg sac. I think that small web was her farewell gesture, as that was the last we saw of her. I suppose the mosquitoes and no-see-ums are happy that they can now flit about freely in the moonlight. But I miss her.
I tried several times to get a close-up pic of her and did manage to get a photo of her in her web, but she was too high for me. Fortunately, my son got a good close-up shot of her to share. I’ve googled to find out exactly what kind of orb weaver she was, but haven’t found a picture or description that fits her. If you'd like to learn more about these fascinating critters, the Bug Guide has a lot of info on and photos of orb weavers.