Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Spider and the Dragonfly

As I walked down the 196th Avenue Levee path about 10 minutes after sunrise, Halloween Pennant dragonflies were abundant.

Halloween Pennants have very expressive faces.

Halloween Pennant close 20110228

Their eyes change color as they reflect the light at different angles, from green...

Dragonfly Face 20090416

...to red.

Dragonfly RedEye 20090416

Halloween Pennant 20140321

One flew in front of me and was instantly caught in a spider's orb web. It struggled but was hopelessly trapped.

“Will you step into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly;
“’Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things to show when you are there.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.” 

Dragonfly and spider 01-20140323

The spider was in the middle of the web. It reached the dragonfly within 15 seconds and immediately began spinning huge strands of sticky web.

Dragonfly and spider 02-20140323

Dragonfly and spider 04-20140323

The spider wrapped the dragonfly and within 3 1/2 minutes had immobilized it and delivered a bite to its neck.

Dragonfly and spider 05-20140323

 The dragonfly stopped struggling and its movements gradually decreased.

Dragonfly and spider 06-20140323

I carefully walked off the path and around the web so as not to disturb it. Looking back, I took the last photo with my iPhone only five minutes after the dragonfly first flew into the web.

Spider web blocking 196 Levee trail 20140323

(I was surprised at the depth of field captured in this photo-- that iPhone is quite a gadget!)

On my way back home a little over an hour later, as I approached this spot in the path, I found no  evidence of the spider's web or prey. I knew no human had come along to break it up. Had a bird flown through it? More likely, the spider had eaten its web. Spiders are marvelous recyclers. Orb-weavers commonly consume their silk each day as a way to conserve energy.  

5 comments:

  1. Yikes, so much for that cute face!

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  2. wonderful shots! the first few are stunning! and spiders must eat, too. :)

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  3. Wow, great macro shots! I think my favorite is the 4th one... really nice!

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  4. Great details! Cool to see real wildlife in action.

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  5. Oh my gosh, this is a fantastic series Ken. It deserves to be in National Geographic or somewhere -- I can't believe all that you captured every moment of this.

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