Bowl and Doily Spider

by Carl Strang

Spider webs are delightful structures, and one of my favorites is that of the bowl and doily spider.

The globular bowl is above, the flat doily a short distance below it. The entire structure is suspended in a last year’s Canada goldenrod top.

The globular bowl is above, the flat doily a short distance below it. The entire structure is suspended in a last year’s Canada goldenrod top.

I was able to find the relatively small builder in the photo, and thought I might see if the species could be identified from it.

The spider has a distinctive pattern of white and chocolate brown.

The spider has a distinctive pattern of white and chocolate brown.

It proved to be no contest. There is only one species that makes this kind of web east of the Mississippi, Fontinella communis. Having gotten that far, I did a little reading on their natural history. The double web structure is thought to provide protection from predators above and below. The spider waits on the lower outside surface of the bowl. Prey enter the bowl, are tripped up by its interior cross strands, and fall to the bottom. The spider bites the prey, pulls them through the web, and wraps them.

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