Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hole-ly Orb Weaver Spider

Although the image I get seeing those horns, conjures up denizens not of a holy place ... 

Quinn Cashell, one of our 4-H Summer assistants (who also noticed the imperial moth last month) brought in these pictures of a very weird looking spider, found while boating in Huntingdon County.

Micanthra sagitatta
Before I got a chance to ID it (I was sorting through crab and spiny orb weaver pictures), Quinn came up with the right identification, googling - yellow, black and red horned spider - yielding Arrow Shaped Micanthra Spider, or Micanthra sagitatta.

Micanthra sagitatta
I encouraged her to take some entomology classes when she returns to college in a few weeks.

The "Hole-ly" used in the title is a reference to the hole in the center of the web they weave which, according to Wikipedia, is made to assist in motion.  Here's a video of the spider grooming and keeping house.

Like the other orb weaving spiders we've highlighted on the blog in the past, they belong to the Family Araneidae.

The name Micrathena comes from Greek meaning "Little Athena" (Micro - Athena) and sagittata means "shaped like an arrow" in latin.  According to Greek legend, the goddess Athena and the mortal Arachne engaged in a weaving contest wherein Arachne arrogantly mocked the gods.  Athena touched her forehead, making her feel so ashamed of her impudence, she hanged herself.  Taking pity, Athena revived and then transformed Arachne:
She sprinkled her with the juices of aconite, and immediately her hair came off, and her nose and ears likewise. Her form shrank up, and her head grew smaller yet; her fingers cleaved to her side and served for legs. All the rest of her is body, out of which she spins her thread, often hanging suspended by it, in the same attitude as when Athena touched her and transformed her into a spider.
The class of inverterbrates that spiders belong to, along with mites, harvestmen (Daddy Long Legs), ticks, and scorpions is called the Arachnida after Arachne. I also like the horticulture connection with aconite - the beautiful, but poisonous Monkshood, or Wolfsbane - Aconitum napellus.

No comments:

Post a Comment