Is it from a massive dispersal of spiderlings?
Or is it part of a communal web?
Many people don’t realize that a few (fairly uncommon) spiders actually live together in a group. It’s not like ants and bees–all the spiders in a shared web reproduce.
Social spiders all cooperate to build and maintain the web, capture prey, and take care of babies.
To learn more about social spiders:
- News story from Texas about this web
- Great Q and A with an expert on social spiders
- Neat article about social spitting spiders at the California Academy of Science–with video!
- A news story about the research of a Cornell entomologist who works on social spiders
- Another photo of a social spider web can be found here.
- High resolution photo of the Texas web
- Video of the Texas Web
EDITED TO ADD: verdict is in EDITED AGAIN 8/31/07: Verdict is out again. Now they think it’s a mass hatching event of Tetragnathidae (Long Jawed Orb Weavers)
Southeastern Social Cobweb Spider; Anelosimus studiosus (Hentz, 1850);Family Theridiidae – Cobweb Spiders
EDITED EVEN YET AGAIN TO ADD: In response to a question about whether social spiders eat and re-spin their webs nightly as some large garden spiders do, I found out: “Anelosimus studiosus adds to its webs over the season but does not eat it, at least detectably. And so much debris accumulates in the webs over time that consumption and re-spinning would be detectable! ” (8/30/07)