Yes, I’m weird

…but then again, you already knew that, didn’t you?

This little bugger here is, to the best I can determine right now, a spined micrathena spider (Micrathena gracilis,) common as muck in the woods of North Carolina, especially this time of year. Yesterday I was walking in the woods and came across a spread of huge mushrooms (one per pizza – you think I’m joking?) and this inspired me to go back out at night and try to find some bioluminescent fungi. I’ve seen it once before, many years ago, and figured this was the time to locate it with the weather we’ve been having.

I had no luck with that, but in performing my search I wandered through countless spider webs. They’re most active at night, and micrathenas prefer to spin their orbs (the classic circular “wheel” webs) between trees centered about 1.5 meters up. Of course, that’s just under our own height and we pick the gaps in the trees to navigate through the woods, so encountering them is just about unavoidable. They’re harmless, of course, but opportunistic.

Near as I can tell, one decided to stay on board when I traipsed through its net, and once I was back in the office and unloading the memory card (two whole shots in extremely dark conditions,) bailed My Body The Bus and set up shop with a web that stretches from my desk lamp, to my monitor, and up to the ceiling fan. Since last night, I’ve been watching it diddybopping back and forth over my desk on invisible strands. Just now as I was getting this pic, it decided that it might examine the area under the lamp down to my desk, and began dangling down towards the mouse – I discouraged this by poking it gently to get it to retreat.

Putting something in the photo to show scale was going to be hard, so you’ll have to settle for a description: body length without legs is roughly 4mm, maybe half the length of a grain of rice. Its not exactly a tarantula.

Two of my four readers are now asking themselves what kind of brain-damaged human would leave a spider spinning a web directly over their desk, and the answer is, a nature photographer of course. I talked about this before, but when shooting tiny subjects outdoors, your focus range is minuscule, and even gentle breezes can move your subject around. So a subject this difficult that basically asks to be photographed is welcomed. Plus my window screens aren’t as good as I’d like them and little flying insects like congregating around my monitor at night, so I’m hoping we can work a deal…

I was thinking of expanding this post with some details about how to get images like this (or even better!) but that will wait a little bit, since I need to do some shots of the macro rig. Stay tuned.

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