Occasionally a Bark Spider decides to span its web across a road. If I see it in time (before driving through it) I always stop and show this fascinating creature and its ‘hunting tool’ to my guests. Once we had a good look I ‘cut’ the anchor line and the base line of the web.
The spider, now hanging with his web material from one tree only, eats up the remaining silk to preserve the protein for its next night’s web-building.
When the weather gets hot and humid many different species of Golden Orb Spiders build their webs along and across the roads on Thanda. Part of Bheki’s job at this time of the year is to take down the webs across the roads before they reach our guests.
It is good to know that spiders do not like large warm-blooded mammals and therefore avoid any contact with humans. Even in the rare case that one touches Bheki’s fingers it immediately descends and gets away from him. That also means that one can walk or drive safely beneath their webs – they do not drop on people 🙂
These beautiful creature occur in many color variations.
More about Golden Orb Spiders:
The Golden Orb Spiders (genus Nephila) are a genus of spiders noted for the impressive webs they weave. Nephila consists of numerous individual species found around the world. They are also commonly called Golden Silk Orb-weavers, Giant Wood Spiders, or Banana Spiders.
Golden Orb Spiders usually reach sizes up to 5.1 cm (2 in) in females, not including leg span, with males being usually 2/3 smaller (less than 2.5 cm, 1 in).
They are the oldest surviving genus of spiders, with a fossilized specimen known from 165 million years ago.
These spiders do not seem to form either beneficial or harmful relationships with humans. An (unlikely) bite causes local pain, redness, and blisters that normally disappear within 24-hours.
This sun spider sat in the middle of the road when I left the lodge. I took an eye level shot of this small predator – lying on my belly as usual 🙂
About Sun Spiders:
Solifugae are known variously as Camel Spiders, Wind Scorpions or Sun Spiders. The order includes more than 1,000 described species. Sun Spiders are a different order from the true Spiders and the Scorpions. Much like a spider, the body of a Sun Spider has two tagmata (body segments).
Unlike Scorpions, Sun Spiders do not have a third body segment that forms a “tail”. Most species of Solifugae live in deserts and feed opportunistically on small ground-dwelling animals. A number of urban legends exaggerate the size and speed of Sun Spiders, and their potential danger to humans, which is practically nil.
This image is part of my “Without the Five” series:
Each image features a species, which is usually not in the safari limelight. So they will be no images of Lions, Leopard, Elephants, Rhinos, Buffalo, Cheetahs …
Today I got some images of a gorgeous sunset over Thanda. The word Thanda means love in the Zulu language. A very fitting name for a beautiful place.
And while I was driving through some over-grown areas I heard a slight impact on the seat next to me. When I looked I saw, what I first thought was, a small piece of bark of a tree. But when I looked more closely it was a small spider (approx. 2cm or 3/4″) in size. This species is called Darwin’s Bark Spider. It looks exactly like a piece of bark when it pulls its legs in. I took a small stick, let it climb onto the stick and put it back into a tree. The picture below is of a second bark spider I saw later in the day hanging in its web.
More about the Bark Spider:
Darwin’s Bark Spider (Caerostris darwini) is an orb-weaver spider. The species was named in honor of the naturalist Charles Darwin, with the description being prepared precisely 150 years after the publication of The Origin of Species.
Darwin’s Bark spider occurs in Madagascar and some parts of South Africa. It is the architect of the largest web in the world. Webs are woven across entire rivers and span up to 30 square feet.
Its silk is the toughest biological material ever studied, over ten times tougher than a similarly-sized piece of Kevlar.