They're everywhere! They're everywhere!
THE SPIDER WEB CAPER
7/25/2015... It was a lovely weekend morning when I grabbed my camera and headed to Lake Ray Hubbard to photograph the kayakers. It was hot... after all, this is Texas and we are in the middle of the summer, but I just wanted to get out to shoot something.
After spending about 30 minutes shooting at Paddle Point, I could feel the sweat trickling down my face. It was at that point that I decided to drive across the road to the other area of the lake to see if there might be a few birds to shoot before heading home to the coolness of the house.
I looked out to the lake where sometimes there are birds but only saw a couple ducks. Prospects were not good. I scanned the area for any other possible photo ops when I suddenly saw a huge... like ginormous, humongous spider web right across the road that was enveloping the trees. This was no ordinary spider web! This was more like the web I had photographed back in 2007 at Lake Tawakoni except that one was even bigger than this one and had drawn entomologists from all over the country to study it and the spiders that made it.
The web was so creepy looking that I had to go over and get a better look.
DO NOT ENTER!
It went to the tree tops and included many trees. It was so thick that you could not walk between the trees unless you wanted to become tangled in the web.
I started taking photos. A biker came along and saw me shooting the web and remarked that he had been by there just a few days before and never saw the web. So did they build it that quickly or was he just not paying attention? A young family gawked from the other side of the road and they were spooked by it, as were the children. They said it looked like Halloween! (Agreed!)
At first I did not see the spiders. I got closer and then I saw them... all sizes! Some inside of the web and some outside of the web. They were all busy doing what spiders do and I could see little bugs caught in the web. A delectable spider dinner, no doubt! I continued to shoot photos trying to get macro shots of the spiders for an ID. The most prominent spider appeared to be the same as was at the Tawakoni web... a long jawed spider, possibly a Guatemalan long jawed spider, but there were other spiders too.
Long Jawed Spider
At this point I am dripping with sweat and feeling lightheaded and decided to call it a day. As I turned, there was a large piece of the spider web that had broken free from a branch and was floating in the air and I could feel it hit my face. For anyone watching from afar it was probably a funny scene to watch me flailing about swatting the web off my face and fluffing my hair with my hands and then dancing around brushing my clothing in hopes that there were no spiders on me. Definitely time to go home!!
I arrived home, got out of the car to find a grasshopper on the window screen. He did not seem one bit afraid of this sweaty human being who had been battling spiders, and I mustered up what strength I had left to get some shots of him before he jumped away.
The next evening I decided to return to the web and try to use my off-camera flash with my macro lens on a tripod to see if I could get a better spider shot. Well, I failed miserably. The original hand held shots were actually better. I became interested in watching a wasp caught in the web and then only about 12 inches from where I was shooting, I saw a cicada caught in the web, upside down and twirling on a strand of the web. Every once in a while I could see him attempt to get free but without success. I repositioned my flash and lens to catch the drama taking place. I was quite sure he was about to become "Thanksgiving dinner" for the spiders. He had twirled to a bad angle and I gently blew on the bug to get him to turn in better position to shoot. I fired off a bunch of shots and then tried it again and got a few more shots. The next time I blew much harder and to my amazement, it was just enough to free him and he went flying off! Free at last! I was ecstatic... as was he! And to think that I almost missed the drama that was only a foot from where I had been shooting. With that, I called it a day and took my sweaty self home.
It was not until a couple days later that the bites started to appear. No... not spider bites but chigger bites! The chiggers had gotten me! I never thought to spray myself before entering the weedy area. The joys of living in Texas! At least the spiders did not mummify me in their web!
So much for the Spider Web Caper!
Keywords: Lake Ray Hubbard, Rowlett, Texas, cicada, humongous spider web, lake, long jawed spider, nature, spider, spider web