Add-a-Pearl (spider) Necklace

Today’s Sidewalk Nature: a spider-egg necklace in a Yew hedge. There are 1, 2, 3 pearls in this one, but I’ve seen up to eight. The mom spider—a Basilica orbweaver—is always nearby, till the frost gets her. 

I should have shown you when she was still around, and when her mini “Basilica” dome of a web was still intact, but the point of SidewalkNature is to show what’s here now, so I’m showing her egg-sacs in case you find some nearby, too.

The eggs will dangle through winter, and in spring will produce more Basilica Orbweavers: small spiders hardly noticeable unless there’s a pearl to draw your eye.
The spiders notice us, however, and will slip out of sight if we poke at the pearls.

I’ve seen them on other shrubs, too, but am sure to find at least a dozen necklaces in our Eastern red-cedars.
Maybe the Mom spiders find abundant prey in cedars,
or maybe hatchlings don’t fall far from their tree,
or maybe I just see white pearls better against an evergreen backdrop.

This spring, one of my goals is to watch a pearl “hatch,” or at least to find an exit hole!


More info:
To see photos of Basilica orbweaver (Mecynogea lemniscata) spiders and webs, visit this page on BugGuide.
The species name means “hanging ribbons,” but the egg-sacs make me think of Add-a-Pearl necklaces.


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Bio:
Joanna Brichetto is a naturalist and writer in Nashville, the hackberry-tree capital of the world.
She writes about everyday marvels amid everyday habitat loss, and her essays have appeared in Creative NonfictionBrevity, Fourth Genre, Hippocampus, The Hopper, Flyway, The Common, Stonecrop Review, The Fourth River and other journals. Her forthcoming book is Paradise in a Parking Lot: Unlikely Stories from Urban Nature.

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