An employee working for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) found a large Orbweaver spider web on a trail

An employee working for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) found a large Orbweaver spider web on a trail, sparking interest in the department’s Facebook page, with one user calling it the reincarnation of the late artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff.

A photograph taken by Francis Skalicky, media specialist for the MDC, made the rounds on social media Wednesday, October 1. He took the image while he was out on a trail in Springfield, in southwestern Missouri. His close-up shot of the circular spider web, built between two trees, made it appear large.

Facebook users were fascinated with the intricate web, with a number of commenters calling it “beautiful.” One user commented: “Those are the kind that literally ‘catch’ people if they walk through them at night lol.” Others shared their own experiences with orb weaver spiders, with people finding similar spiderwebs in their homes and others getting webs in their faces.

“This is simply reincarnation: Christo has returned as an orb weaver spider!” one user commented, referring to the environmental installation artist who passed away in May this year. Together with his partner Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, they were known as Christo and Jeanne-Claude famous for large installation arts – such as covering Biscayne Bay islands and the Reichstag in fabric.

The Work of an OrbWeaver

The web was made by an orb weaver spider, known to be among the most common builders of spiral, wheel-shaped webs as seen in the picture. According to the MDC, there are a number of species of orb weavers in Missouri, with adults of the species and their webs reaching their largest around late summer and fall – resulting in more noticeable examples of the circular spiderwebs.

Orbweaver spiders are also large compared to other spiders, with their females reaching lengths of ½ inch for the body alone, with males being considerably smaller. The MDC website features the spotted orb weavers, belonging to the genus Neoscona, native to Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Conservation also made the comparison between its native spotted orb weavers, genus Neoscana, and the commonly known angulate orb weavers, genus Araneus. While both might display the same marks and colors, the MDC website notes the examination of their fovea. In spiders, the fovea is a depression, appearing like a dimple, found in the center of their carapace. For Neoscona orb weavers, the fovea runs lengthwise along its body while for Araneus orb weavers, it runs crosswise to the length of the body.

A Tangly Endeavor

For most orb weavers, they use different types of materials for creating their “orb,” or circular webs. According to Hebets Lab at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the anchor and frame threads, which are the outermost parts supporting the rest of the web often “anchored” on trees, or on the ground, use silk from their Major Ampullate glands. These are good for absorbing kinetic energy as well as having high tensile strength.

The temporary capture spider or auxiliary spiral, loops in the circular web that are highly elastic, are synthesized from their Minor Ampullate glands. Lastly, the capture spiral used for trapping prey is made from their flagelliform glands, coated with an adhesive of some sorts from their aggregate gland. Additionally, orb weavers use another adhesive, this one from the pyriform glands, to attach the different strands together.

Another type of orb weaver spiders, the garden orb weavers are known for unravelling their webs by dusk, leaving it for the evening to catch prey. By dawn, these spiders dismantle their web and lay another by the following dusk.

Originally published at science times