Stripey insects

Amongst the wild flowers in the lawn I discovered  this spider with wasp-like markings poised unmoving in the centre of her web; looking it up on the web (!) I found that it is indeed called a wasp spider, and depending on its age it weaves a zig zag design on its web, much as you see here (apparently the younger wasp spiders haven’t learnt this stitch as yet, so my guess is it’s possible to guess its age.)  It is thought this thicker structure reflects UV light thereby attracting pollinating insects like bees and moths. I notice also that she’s also woven a cloud of silk in the centre of the web behind which she lurks waiting for her prey.

The same day I noticed an ant with similar markings who’d hopped off the bunch of flowers I’d brought in, here the photo is a bit blurred, but you can easily see the stripes. 

I know I’ve mentioned these before, but I am fascinated by the mud daubing wasps which appear to be increasing in numbers every year, they build their little mud pots so painstakingly and attach them all round our windows, collecting spiders to entrap them within the pot or rather cacoon, then they lay a single egg which hatches into a larva and consumes the spiders. I added the teaspoon to give an idea of the size.

One of the “pots” fell off the window when I opened it and out fell several spiders, in suspended animation I presume. We always know when the mother wasp is at work when we hear frantic buzzing whilst she creates her pots from the ball of mud she’s collected and carried back in her mouth.

I found a huge city of cacoons at the back of a shelf in the outhouse, this mother is not such an artist as the one above who leaves neatly sculpted rows of pots, she gives the impression of being in a hurry as she just throws the mud into a heap whilst burying her pots beneath the pile.


This seems to be a blog on wildlife so I’ll include this praying mantis who was intent on pooping on my nice clean washing, looking every bit as though he’s about to conduct Beethovens 5th if only he could find an orchestra. He spat at me when I tried to move him, so, not sure if they bite or not, I let him be and resigned myself to another load of washing if needs be…..

20 thoughts on “Stripey insects

  1. Wonderful photo and descriptions! We have a mud dauber wasp too and she makes small round beads with dots on them, strung together, usually attached to a blade of grass. I have a photo I’ll send you of a praying mantis imitating the Queen. XXX

  2. Beautiful web spinning there! We also have the small wasps around our house, and they are actually called spider wasps because they hunt spiders for just the purpose you describe. Unfortunately, we found out the hard way tat our son is allergic to their stings!! They may be small, but they pack a punch! After his visit to the emergency room, they are “wasps non grata” around here!!

    • That’s bad luck for your son, and for you especially, as they keep the spider population down ( I’m assuming you don’t like spiders here) . Well, well, well I shall be less blasé about disturbing them in order to se what they are up to!

      • Oh, there’s not much we can do about either, really… and, we have spiders in abundance around here. As for my son, he carries an EpiPen now. Spider wasps 1… Paul 0.

  3. oh Liz, what marvellous models for drawing and such beautiful dresses. Here autumn is creeping in slowly as well, I love the colours of this time of year! Next week we will go to Venice, the Biennale, we are so much looking forward to that!, I will send pics of all our smiling faces and the art of course!
    How is everything with you?

  4. Lovely, Liz.

    I did not know about wasps that store spiders 🕷 in self-made, pottery jars. Fascinating.

    I also did not know that mantises spit. We had a large one here a few years ago, but I didn’t try to touch.

    🕊 M.

    >

    • Yes, it’s a fascinating world, and we only know about it because of the curiosity of others who are happy to spread their knowledge after patient observation. And now I know it’s best not to disturb a creature deep in prayer!

      • Hi Liz, it was so, so lovely. My friends have a place there so I’ll be going back, and maybe at a less busy time of year so I really hope we get to meet next year, I’ll let you know dates if I go, it’s between Ribèrac and Chalais

      • Great, that’s a lovely area, I did some work in a chateau in St Aulaye in 1992, maybe you know it, I can’t remember if it was Chateau St Aulaye or had some other name. Anyway it was my first experience of sleeping in a creepy castle whilst the owner was away, luckily my friend with whom I was working was staying as well, so at least I wasn’t alone! I remember long darkened corridors, creaking floorboards, and the wind whistling through gaps in the windows, all perfectly normal sounds during daylight hours, but not what you want to hear when you get up in the night to go to the loo!
        Maybe see you next year then….

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