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What’s That on the Lawn?

By Heather Norris

Fall is here, and we had our first foggy morning at our house. I was dreaming of a fog delay as much as my children. After checking the school’s website at least 10 times, the boys reluctantly got ready for school and we headed for the bus stop.

Walking down the driveway, I thought some trash had blown into our yard. Looking a little closer, I discovered this silvery web complete with its builder. A grass spider had spun its web in my yard overnight.

Since the web was almost as large as a piece of notebook paper, the spider has likely been working on it undetected all summer. I simply had not been paying attention. The web was encased in dew which made the invisible silken strands visible.

The spider, less than one inch long, was standing in front of its funnel home waiting for some sleepy insect to stumble into its lair. Grass spiders do not build sticky webs but run incredibly quickly to capture their prey once it bounces on the netting. Look closely and you should see the top webs above he spider, which act as trip wires to knock flying prey into its web.

Once I captured these images, I slowly stepped away to leave this eight-legged, eight-eyed friend to catch its breakfast.  

If you are fortunate enough to see this common Ohio spider in your neighborhood, check out the web to admire its structure and ingenuity. Fall is a season of change, and the grass spiders will only be around a few more weeks.

Heather Norris is a naturalist and environmental programs manager for Metroparks.