This photo has a subject to which, after going back through the archives and pondering it more, I wish I had given more attention at the time. It’s a rueful moment, and it is one because at the time I simply did not know what I was looking. My original best guess was that I was looking at a molt of a spider hiding below its discarded exoskeleton. Much like dead insects and spiders, the molts of spiders have legs that often draw inward to a folded position. That the “molt” was not very transparent did bother me, but apparently spider molts weren’t interesting enough for me back then to pursue it. Older and more confident and fact-filled (I don’t want to get crazy and say “wiser”), I think I can finally set myself straight.
As I was picking photos out of the archive, I came upon this one and almost immediately thought, Oh, that’s not a molt; that’s six-spotted orbweaver! It was a mildly Eureka!-ish moment, courtesy of an easier familiarity with the spiders involved. Now I am assuming the cobweb spider came along and ensnared its cousin, but I suppose orbweaver could have died otherwise and the other is just catching some shade. The odd discoloration and gaping crack on the six-spotted orbweaver’s abdomen does look a little curious…but getting eaten by a spider will do that to you, won’t it?
Anyway, spider gotta eat, and Monday gotta go on. Just a couple quick notes: I did some layer masking on the orbweaver’s abdomen to bring out some more detail. I wanted to darken the highlights a bit more in that area, but it just looked too unnatural for my taste. Regarding the cobweb spider, I’m pretty sure it is just that, but not completely. It looks a heckuvalot like Enoplognatha ovata, but the images on BugGuide.net show it to have a highly-variable appearance. As usual take identifications with a grain a salt. Have a great week, everyone.