Spider webs illuminated by the rising Sun.

The morning of September 17 was the first frost advisory of the year for the Champlain Valley and though the temperature never dropped low enough to produce frost it did get cool enough to create impressive amounts of dew. So When I took a dawn walk at Otter View Park in Middlebury that morning all the grass, shrubs and trees were alight with sunlight refracting through the dew. What really caught my eye though was the remarkable number of normally undetectable spider webs that were revealed by this combination of dew and sunlight. In the photo above there are at least twenty spider webs visible, but this just represents a narrow view of the habitat they were found in. Similar densities of webs like these were repeated across the entire 3.5 acres of meadow at the park. I found one of the webs along the edge of the trail and took some up-close pictures of what I later learned was a Banded Garden Spider. Its body was also completely covered in dew and when I zoomed in on my picture I was amazed by the beautiful gem-like quality of the water droplets against its black, white and yellow body.

The light catching properties of these webs isn’t coincidental either. It is believed that these spiders position their webs in relation to the sun to maximize the amount of solar heating the spider’s body can get throughout the day. An important consideration for a species that’s ability to breed and defend its egg sacs ends when they succumb to freezing temperatures.

– Ron Payne