Lattice Orb Weaver – Araneus thaddeus
This is a male specimen. size = 8mm. Male orb weavers are generally much smaller than females, and their behavior makes them a much rarer sight – although with this species, I never have seen a female.
The common name for this species refers to their lattice-like web retreat usually constructed inside a folded-over leaf.
Species epithet Thaddeus after Dr. Thaddeus Wm. Harris, a noted American naturalist and entomologist.
Harris was a great friend and collaborator of Nicholas Hentz (1797-1856), a French-born entomologist, engraver, and miniature painter, who spoke several languages and studied medicine in Paris and at Harvard.
Hentz’s posthumous Spiders of the United States, a collection of scholarly articles, paintings, and drawings on the subject, remains a standard in the field of arachnology. Hentz named this species in Harris’s honor.
Hentz wrote of the signature lattice-like retreat of this spider, “Its dwelling place is really beautiful; it is placed above its web, and made of the finest white silk, shining with a satin lustre; its shape is that of an inverted thimble, and it is usually placed under a leaf bent together for the purpose of affording shelter and security.”
I hope some day to run across a female of the species, and view its web with my own eyes. I’ll keep looking!
1. Bugguide.net, Lattice Orb Weaver
2. Bugguide.net, species page Araneus thaddeus
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