Miscellaneous - Sounds Wild


Download Episode: Spider (MP3 file 2,464 kB)



A beautiful yellow orb spider hangs head-down in a platter size web fastened to a backyard playhouse in Anchorage. The playhouse belongs to a girl who appreciates this backyard insect predator; she and her mom have been watching this spider catch and eat bugs all summer. She's giant by Alaska spider standards, a member of the family Aranedea, brightly colored garden spiders considered beneficial because they eat garden pests.

Orb spiders go back to the time of dinosaurs. As flowering plants evolved and flourished during the cretaceous period, their insect pollenators thrived along with them, spreading across the planet. Orb spiders also flourished thanks to their amazing silk, a strong, elastic protein they spun into nets capable of sustaining the impact of flying prey. The orb-web is a frame of tough anchor lines overlaid with a sticky capture spiral, and the silks of orb-weaver spiders have exceptional mechanical properties. One strategy that helps - Orbicularian spiders tend to eat their web every day, re-spinning a fresh orb that's strong, sticky and clean.

Garden spiders generally live just one season, laying eggs in the fall, ensuring a new generation of spiderlings will disperse in the spring.