Thursday, October 22, 2009

Argiope Slayer

The arthropod world is a universal chomp, and yesterday--apparently--our argiope (Argiope aurantia) went down to a Chinese praying mantis (Tenodera sinensis). Apparently.

We didn't see it. But when Sue left for work yesterday morning, our lovely "Mrs. Argiope" was gone from her web, and this four-to-five-inch mantis was standing less than a foot away from where she used to hang out. There was a single black spider leg dangling in the web.

And the mantis was looking right up at Sue with its green eyes. Defiantly. Motionless.

Sue took some pictures.

. . . Well, it is getting late in the season. The cold evenings aren't good for any of the bugs, and when it finally frosts hard enough, all the argiopes expire then, collapse and drift into the leaves of the plants upon which they've built their season's webs.

So this year, it was a quick dispatch instead of the slowing of metabolism until there is nothing.

She did make at least three egg cases (that we know of) before she was dispatched.

As an interesting note, there had been another argiope, about one molt behind full adulthood, which had built a respectable web nearby, in the same clump of tomatoes. She has now appropriated the web built by the other argiope, which is bigger and better-placed for hunting. Yesterday, I noticed she'd caught a little wasp. But if she wants to make egg cases, she'd better get a move on.

And watch out for mantises!

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