Tag Archives: spiders

Garden Zipper Spiders

Some kinds of spiders survive all year. Others like garden zipper spiders begin as tiny spiderlings in the spring, grow all season and die at frost leaving behind, if they are lucky, a case full of eggs to hatch the next spring.

Each egg case releases a cloud of minute spiderlings too small to capture insects. Hay fever sufferers are miserable in early spring when the trees bloom releasing clouds of pollen, but tiny spiders depend on this pollen to survive. Pollen is rich in protein and other nutrients and easy to catch in tiny webs.

As the surviving spiderlings grow, they begin to capture insects for food. The bigger the spider, the bigger the insects their web can catch. By late summer garden zipper spiders are an inch long and easy to spot dressed in deep black, vivid yellow and white.

A new web is spun each morning. A spider tends to stay in the same area unless no food seems available there. Watching a spider spin a web is interesting.

The big spiders are all females and nearly blind seeing little more than light and dark. The web is spun by feel.

garden zipper spiders are web builders
The cephalothorax or head and body region of a garden zipper spider has a woolly look to it. The abdomen is deep black and yellow. The signature zipper is below the spider.

First the spokes are put up. Then the spider starts from the outside and puts the sticky spiral silk down attaching it to each spoke. Garden zipper spiders finish by putting a thick zigzag both up and down from the center.

The spider takes up position behind the zipper and waits. When an insect lands in the web, she races out to subdue and eat it.

Male garden zipper spiders are much smaller than females and don’t spin webs. They hunt for web of females and begin the hazardous task of wooing and mating. They tap out a message on the strands to announce their presence.

garden zipper spider
This garden zipper spider is getting ready to lay eggs. The abdomen gets bigger until it dwarfs the rest of the spider. From the underside a zipper spider is black and yellow.

If the female is interested, the male can advance and mate. Otherwise or even after mating, he can become dinner.

The female’s abdomen gets very large. One day she spins a tear drop shaped egg case and fills it with eggs. Securing it in a hidden sheltered spot those eggs will wait for spring to hatch into next season’s garden zipper spiders.

Meet more spiders in both “Exploring the Ozark Hills” and “My Ozark Home.”

Jumping Spiders

Insects seem to be everywhere now. Where there are insects, there are spiders.

Similar to insects and lumped with them as bugs, spiders differ in two major ways. One is running around on eight legs. The other is having only two body parts: a cephalothorax and an abdomen. Insects have three: head, thorax and abdomen.

red jumping spider

From the top this red jumping spider shows the two body segments of a spider. Silk is made from the tip of the abdomen. Jumping spiders use silk anchor lines so, if they slip when jumping, they don’t fall.

All spiders can make spider silk but not all spiders use it to make webs. Jumping spiders do not make webs. Instead of trapping their prey, jumping spiders track it down and pounce on their meals.

Unlike web spiders, jumping spiders have and need excellent eyesight. They have eight eyes so they can see in several directions at once since they can not turn their heads. The two main eyes point straight ahead.

Several different jumping spiders live around the Ozarks. The biggest seem to get about an inch long and are gray. The red ones are the most noticeable. But a pale tan one was out hunting the other day.

tan jumping spider

This tan jumping spider is looking at the camera with those two big front eyes. Other eyes are on the sides of the head and top of the head.

This little spider was out checking over leaves near the forest floor. Beetles and flies often rest on such leaves. Since they were in a ravine perhaps the spider would find a few mosquitoes for snacks.

Giants like me are a definite threat to a half inch long spider. It froze hoping to be overlooked. One look at the big lens of a camera was too much for it. The jumping spider vanished under the leaf.

red jumping spider face

This happy red jumping spider has just finished eating what looks like a harvestman leaving nothing but an empty, colorless shell.

Jumping spiders are fun to watch. Their big eyes and furry bodies give them an almost cute appearance. They are welcome residents especially when they dine on mosquitoes.