Sep 5, 2017

Easy-Macro and the Alien Spider

Just a heads-up, if you're not a fan of spiders, even in photographic form, you should probably not continue.

I picked up this neat little thing called Easy-Macro which is a macro lens attachment for your phone's camera. Okay, it's not so much an "attachment" as a rubbery band with a lens that stretches over your phone. For $10 it seemed like a fun impulse buy so I gave it a shot.

When not in use you can wrap it on to the card which then slips into a little credit card sized envelope so you can put it in your wallet. I've been playing with it around the house getting up close with all sorts of things including my fingerprints.

I bought it from Photojojo which has all sorts of neat stuff for photography. They always send a little plastic dinosaur with your order so I figured he'd be a good test subject.

A couple days later, I was putting out the trash and noticed a spider had built a web between the trash bin and the fence. It wasn't any kind of spider I'd seen before, it was very colorful. It also had more of a horizontal thing going with its web as opposed to what you might normally think when you picture a spider web.

Thanks to, I was able to find out this is a Venusta Orchard Spider. This site has a great set of drop down menus you can use to narrow down your mystery creepy crawly. This spider belongs to the family Tetragnathidae which are long-jawed orb weavers. From what I've read, the females are the web spinners in this species.

Fun Fact: This is the only spider to get its Genus name from Charles Darwin.

Macro photography requires a steady hand and an equally steady subject. In addition to having to get within about an inch, I was trying to not damage the web (which was intricate and hard to see) plus there was a bit of a breeze bouncing our little arachnid around. They also like to hang upside down in the web and while it is a few feet off the ground, it was challenging to maneuver the phone up under it without disturbing anything.

I could tell it was colorful when looking at it but didn't really appreciate it until seeing the macro photos. I thought it looked very alien, not only because it's green, but also because of how it almost looks like it's made of crystal. This of course reminded me of the crystal spider from the movie Krull. If you click on the photo, you can get even closer and be able to see some of the eyes as well as tiny hairs on the legs that help detect vibrations in the web.

I tried, without the macro lens, to get pics of the web because it is very interesting to look at. It's horizontal with many layers which I could almost picture as being floors in a house. Using a phone camera to try and capture a spider web in daylight is not an easy thing.

I went back and took this one yesterday as there was a bit more sun shining there than the first couple I took. To my surprise, she had constructed a more traditional web but horizontally instead of vertically. Now I'm thinking the multi-level "house" web I saw was probably the remnants of few previous webs in the same general area.

You can read all you'd ever want to know about the Orchard Spider here.


  1. Very similar to a Green Lynx Spider... (nasty bite)...
    Part of the common garden spider type... we used to have many of the black and yellow ones (less venomous bite) till the mocking birds ate them all for the last many years....
    ... and the Owls came and got all of the neighborhood cats about 5 years ago...
    ... normally the remains (of previous webs) are often left as a 1st line defense from what-ever destroyed the last one... and the spider (Female in your picture ... Males are much smaller) would have eaten its other webbing is in need of food to spin new web...
    A pleasant week to you and yours...

    1. Well fed spider and does it hang on the under-side of webbing..?
      thought it odd that it built its web as a "flat-surface"...

    2. Went to link on long-jaw weaver... interesting read.

  2. I've meant to write to you about your spider pics for a while! I was able to read this blog post while in Colorado, but I was using a little tablet that isn't so easy to type on. So I thought I'd wait until I got home to leave you a comment.

    Fantastic photos! Looks like that little macro lens is a good buy. It looks kind of like a little goggle for a cyclops. :) Or one of those minion critters.

    That is a beautiful spider! I've definitely never seen one like it. And to think that it's an orb-weaver! It's so much more colorful than the garden spiders around here. About how big was this spider? Our orb-weavers are pretty large, probably an inch long (counting the legs).

    It's interesting about the web, that it looked vertical at one point and horizontal at another. One came around here last summer and stayed in the same spot for months. This year, an orb-weaver stayed only a few days in the same web. Is this one of yours still around?

    Congrats on the amazing photos! You did a great job with this. And the spider was a good model too. :)

    1. It wasn't very large, probably around the size you mentioned.

      With the web, I did figure out there were remnants of previous webs hanging around which made it look multi-leveled. I'm not sure if she's still around. She had moved her main web a couple weeks ago and last week I thought I saw an egg sac in that web but I haven't seen her around when I go out to the trash.

      Thanks for the compliments :)

  3. Hmm... Maybe you'll have some baby orb-weavers crawling about? I think these garden spiders are great. They take care of so many pests. The big one that hung around last summer was in this area the mosquitoes like to go, so that was appreciated! I've heard that they'll come back to the same place year after year.