Round the web

I stop at this spot in the garden once a day. I’m sure to see some butterflies here at any time. Yesterday I saw this strange spider web. A spider web has radial threads which aren’t sticky; these are the first threads that the spider lays down to make sure that the web will be stable. Once these anchors are in place, it moves crosswise along them laying down the sticky spiral thread. If you look carefully, you can see the fine lines of this spider’s radial and spiral architecture in the featured photo. But the spider was doing something weird here. While it moved spirally along the web, it seemed to lay down a much thicker spiral.

I haven’t seen anything like this before. I read later that when a spider wishes to move, sometimes she eats up the old web. Could she have been doing that? Maybe she lays down something to soften the thread before eating it? Videos on YouTube (a great reference site for the amateur naturalist) show that the dismantling of a web is very straightforward; the spider doesn’t have to season the silk before eating it. Nor was this the process of wrapping prey in silk. Could it be an invader trying to attack the original inhabitant? As I watched, I saw only one thing moving. I cursed myself for not carrying a magnifying lens with me. I went back again today to look. The web had disappeared. Maybe it was an invasion that I had seen.