Many spiders make their home in the orchard, and we’re happy to have them as they add to our pest control system. The numbers and variety vary from year to year, but this year, since it has been wet, has seen Golden Orb spiders appear in greater numbers than usual.
Golden orb weaving spiders prey items include flies, beetles, locusts, wood moths and cicadas. Sometimes their strong webs manage to trap small birds or bats, and the spider will wrap them and feed upon them.
Their webs are extremely strong and messy,
with a tangle of lines outside and around their central circular web, the orb. I have seen 3 males in the vicinity of one female, living on the outside of her web but apparently even more can make their homes there waiting for a chance to mate with her.
We also have Bird Dropping spiders, so named because they look so much like bird droppings. Their web only supports their eggs and is not used to collect food. They rarely move during the day, and even when you touch them, they are reluctant to show their presence. Apparently they release a hormone to attract moths, which they then eat.
The actual spider in the photo below is the lowest blob, shown with her 7 egg sacs.
Another attractive spider found in the orchard is the Jewel spider. Their webs are also messy around the outside, but the inner web is another orb. The outer threads have small white blobs on them which make them appear quite attractive I think, while the actual spider is reasonably small but with many colourful points on the body. I assume they are just blobs of spider web.