You know times are tough when even the spiders are overcrowded.
Checking the iris bed yesterday I found not one , not two, not 3 but 4 black and yellow Garden Spiders Argiope aurantia . If that doesn't sound like a lot then remember this is the largest spider in the garden and that the full grown adult may have a web 2 feet across its clearly going to get crowded and something has got to give. Of course they won't all stay there, they never do. Weather will move some of them somewhere more sheltered and no doubt birds will take at least one. But one will usually stay in that bed the summer long and be huge by the time the fall comes around. I always think that calling this beast a garden spider is a ludicrous understatement. They really are awesome creatures.
Our four current residents in ascending order of age and size are:
Clearly the youngest, this black and yellow spider isn't black or yellow yet more differing shades of gray. It will need to shed a skin and will then look like this:
This one clearly did, just, shed that skin and it is still in the web beside it. Which make the next one, though the same size at least a little older as the skin is discarded. Its not a certain sign but looks like a decent indicator to me.
Which brings us to the last and largest living in splendid isolation at the opposite end of the bed from the first three at least one molt ahead of any of the others. As such she earns a close-up and a shot to put her in context.
New on Tuesday was a Skipper to add to the list. I hadn't noted it before though its not uncommon. The problem is this is the Least Skipper and it is very small indeed, very flighty and very easily missed. If this was a moth it would be a Micro, but we don't have micro butterflies...apparently. I forget how many Skipper species that is for the yard and I suppose I need to consider if I can count the Brazilian Skipper I didnt see but whos very large, very ungly caterpillars devoured our canna last year while we were on vacation.See here for the ugly devils