Spiny Orb Weaver

You can tell that a lot of people notice this brightly-colored, distinctive spider in their gardens, as it’s collected so many common names: spiny orb weaver, jewel spider, spiny-bellied orbweaver, kite spider, jewel box spider, smiley face spider, crab spider, crablike spiny orbweaver. Good heavens. The Latin name means roughly “thorn-belly” (Gasteracantha) and “crab shaped”…

Acrobat Ant

I love encountering entirely new species! I had never heard of an acrobat ant before I got a photo of this little (3mm!) lady. Acrobat ants get their name from their ability to raise their abdomen over their thorax and head when disturbed (you can kind of see this one lifting her butt at me…

Arrow-shaped Micrathena Spider

These striking spiders look like they ought to be related to the spiny orb-weaver (Gasteracantha sp). They are in the same family (Araneidae) but a different genus (Micrathena). They have fewer spines than Gasteracantha (and, again, probably a bunch of smaller details, like the number of hairs on the thorax or which way some microscopic…