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Berkeley in midst of an arachnid-style invasion

Pity the arachnophobes out there, it won’t have escaped your notice it’s spider season in northern California.

This beautiful photo was taken by “Merriweather”, aka the father in the Berkeley family known as the Derringdos who chronicle their everyday adventures on the Derringdos blog.

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  • Bryan

    The season seems to have come much later than last year, probably due to the lousy weather we had all Summer.

  • Alan Saldich

    A question for arachnid experts… Where do all these spiders go the other 10 or 11 months of the year? Do they die and then somehow spontaneously regenerate? Do they hibernate? Do they fly south?

    Seriously, I’ve wondered for years (and I guess I’m too lazy to go look it up myself).

    Thanks!

  • Julie

    A spider like the one pictured set up shop right on my windowsill about two weeks ago! At first I was tempted to shoo her away, but decided she was too pretty. It’s nice having a little neighbor (so long as she doesn’t lay eggs)…

  • http://marcsala.blogspot.com Marc

    Based on some comments on a previous thread at Berkeleyside (which the search engine didn’t find), the spider in the photo is probably a cross spider (Araneus Diadematus). They are all over my yard too, spinning webs at all heights. Their population seems to be a bit higher this year than in previous years, but that’s just my eyeball estimate.

    I’m not sure how long the spider lives, whether it is one year or more. The Encyclopedia of Life entry (eol.org) is not clear. It is clear that females that have mated with a male will lay their eggs, wrap them in silk to form a protective cocoon, and die a few days later. Ideally, the egg sac will survive the winter so that the next generation can hatch

    Last fall I was lucky enough to catch part of the mating dance between male and female cross spiders. The male is quite a bit smaller than the female and to approach her is a dangerous activity — she might not realize that this is a mating opportunity and simply kill the male — so the male takes his time. On my blog, I posted a photo, some commentary and a link to an episode of PBS’s scienceNOW about biologist Maydianne Andrade, who studies one of the most poisonous spiders on the planet (the Australian redback) in a quest to learn more about why some spiders are cannabalistic after mating.

    For anyone interested in creepy-crawlies like spiders, ants and etc., I heartily recommend David Attenborough’s “Life in the Undergrowth”, a multi-hour documentary about the incredible creatures. Like the other works from the Attenborough group, it’s a blend of great stories, striking images and never-before-filmed behavior. It’s on DVD and possibly also on Blu-Ray.