argiope spiders and the montgolfier brothers

What do Argiope spiders and the Montgolfier brothers have in common? Not much — except that they both created airy spheres that float in the air. The Argiopes create spherical egg cases, while the Montgolfier brothers created hot air balloons.

Slight digression. One of those odd little bits of information that I have retained since I was about 8 years of age, has to do with the Montgolfier brothers and hot air balloons. It would seem that one of my teachers must have been crazy about the history of flight and taught us all about balloons, dirigibles, da Vinci’s flying machines, the Wright Brothers, Bell’s Silver Dart, and so on. Isn’t it interesting how some pieces of information become embedded in our young minds and stay with us throughout our lives? It almost seems that I have always known about hot air balloons, Zeppelins, airfoils, and doped canvas wings.

But back to the spiders…

A couple of weeks ago, I began finding Argiope aurantia egg cases here and there in the spider garden and elsewhere around the farm. I’ve probably found at least a dozen so far. The cases are about 2 to 3 cm. in diameter, and have a tough golden-brown “skin” spun from spider silk. The spider then spins an intricate supporting webwork that secures the case to a few stalks of goldenrod or other sturdy plants (see photo above – click on image for larger view). The webwork both helps to support the egg case, but also to protect it from nosy predators.

Before spinning the egg case, the Argiope will have grown quite large after several weeks of spinning huge orbs and catching and consuming prey. As the time to create the egg case draws near, the shape of the spider’s abdomen will change. A pair of basal humps will begin to bulge outwards like big shoulders (see photo below).

If you’d like to know more about these beautiful big spiders, and see photos of the egg case being created, visit my main website to see the pages on The Argiope of Spider Ranch.


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2 Responses to “argiope spiders and the montgolfier brothers”

  1. Sandy Says:

    What wonderful photos! And, so interesting!

  2. burning silo Says:

    Sandy – Thanks! Glad that you enjoyed this piece.