Time for Antelope Island’s SpiderFest!

///Time for Antelope Island’s SpiderFest!

If spiders creep you out you may want to stop viewing this post now but if you like all creatures of the natural world please continue.

Female Western Spotted Orbweaver in her webFemale Western Spotted Orbweaver in her web – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/250, ISO 400, -1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Today is the day for SpiderFest on Antelope Island State Park, a celebration of the interesting spiders that live on the island. Experts from the Natural History Museum of Utah and Hogle Zoo will be joining park staff members to help educate visitors about all the spiders on the island and it is kid friendly!

Around July the spiders on the island become more noticeable and by August you can find them and their webs all over the place. The spiders I see most often on Antelope Island are Western Spotted Orbweavers and I love to photograph them. They were the first spiders I photographed on the island and that was before I even moved to Utah.

Female Western Spotted Orbweaver side viewFemale Western Spotted Orbweaver side view – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Female Western Spotted Orbweavers are large, about 11-17 millimeters in body length. I see the females more often than I see males but perhaps that is because they are larger and more visible.

Each Western Spotted Orbweaver has a unique pattern of dorsal spots but the ventral spots are very much alike.

Female Western Spotted Orbweavers create a silken sac to lay her eggs in and the spiderlings will remain in that sac until the next year and when it warms up they will emerge. Adult Western Spotted Orbweavers  do not overwinter.

Western Spotted Orbweaver maleWestern Spotted Orbweaver male – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1250, ISO 500, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Male Western Spotted Orbweavers are smaller than females, they are about 5-12 millimeters in body length and their abdomens are smaller than the abdomens of females too.

So why am I interested in these spiders even though I am a bird photographer? Well, I think they are beautiful, fascinating creatures but when you think about it….

They are also bird food.

Life is good.

Mia

Local friends, there is no additional cost for the SpiderFest event but normal park fees still apply. The event hours are 10 am to 4 pm. 

9 Comments

  1. Utahbooklover August 6, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    I’m so glad there is still place for these beautiful spiders. Once commonly found in our backyards (in the ’60s) before the Taylorsville area became the fully developed place it is today. Nice that Antelope Island can be a refuge for spiders too. Thanks Mia for your support for all wildlife.

  2. Elephants Child August 5, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    I am fascinated with spiders. And in awe at their architectural talents. Macro photos of their faces show just how beautiful they are as well.

    • Elephants Child August 5, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      PS: For a really beautiful spider, google peacock spider. Tiny critters, but just awesome.

  3. Wally Jones August 5, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Wonderful photographs, naturally! I love finding spiders and there are so many varieties. Orb weavers are definitely my favorites!

  4. M. Bruce August 5, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    All creatures great and small. Five years ago, in Big Bend National Park, I tried to save a tarantula by standing in the middle of the road. I failed and still feel bad. Tarantulas can live longer than a dog. Thanks for sharing Mia.

    • Utahbooklover August 7, 2017 at 12:05 am

      I appreciate your respect for life and your attempt to help wildlife survive. I did not know tarantulas were so long-lived.
      I found this bit in Wikipedia: Female specimens have been known to reach 30 to 40 years of age but not the males.

  5. Laura Culley August 5, 2017 at 10:03 am

    I mostly love spiders. Getting caught in their webs kinda creeps me out, but not overly so. Living in Texas, I learned to welcome them into my home since they kept the populations of other, more obnoxious, bugs in check. That said, as long as they leave me alone, I’ll leave them alone, but get onto my body…yeah, NO!
    A couple of days ago, a small-ish tarantula visited Jack’s (Harris’ hawk) mews, sitting just above Jack’s window ledge (AKA his dining room–where he always eats). Jack didn’t want ANYTHING to do with that tarantula, refused to come to the fist (since he always launches from his ledge), despite that he’s a major food hog. The big, bad predator looked a lot like the woman standing on a chair, squealing for someone else to take the big, bad spider away. So, the job of relocating the tarantula fell to me (the servant around here). I employed my catch-and-release strategy, using a plastic leftover container. Thankfully, the tarantula cooperated with the program without a problem and I released him/her unharmed in the shade in the front yard, away from the mews.
    There was a large-ish spider in North Texas that created huge webs every night beginning at sunset (ish). Then every morning, they’d deconstruct the web and rebuild it again the next evening. I don’t remember the species now (I’ve slept since then, oftentimes soundly and stuff falls out) and I don’t know where they laid their eggs/raised their young, but they fascinated me, again, as long as they left me alone 🙂
    And yes, life IS good!

  6. Patty Chadwick August 5, 2017 at 9:14 am

    I remember standing at the bus stop with my, kids waiting for the school bus, and seeing a huge web– dew drops sparkling in the morning sun like the world’s most beautiful diamond necklace. Fortunately, the kids were too enchanted to destroy it. We saw it every morning for quite a while…I also remember one built in the overhanging branches of a small bush the shore of an Adirondack lake. It was so beautiful it made me catch my breath….

  7. April Olson August 5, 2017 at 7:25 am

    There seems to be an abundance this year. In the early morning hours the island glows with their webs.

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