Beautiful Creature

Ok, So I am going to warn you now - If you have not already guessed.
I love to take Photos of the things some people have phobias about.
I believe God made All Creatures - Great and Small and in their own way they are ALL beautiful.
Yes ... even Spiders.

We call her Shelob -
For those who are JRR Tolkien fans, you will know that Shelob was the monstrous spider from the Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers.  Our Shelob is not quite so evil and although she has quite a pantry of victims has not yet tried to eat us.

She is a Golden Orb Weaver - We have had the privilege of watching her grow as she has set up her home just outside my sewing room window.  We have had Orb weavers in the garden before but never a Golden Orb.  The recent wet weather has brought them to Melbourne.

What drew us to her was her incredible Engineering.  Yes, her web was a fascinating 3 dimension construction that looked somewhat like the Art Centre Spire in Melbourne.

She decided that more food was to be had if she moved her web sidewise - across the path and attached to the lemon tree - So, to prevent the unsuspecting guest walking into her now larger web - I placed the clothes horse across the path.  Now it is part of her web.

In the morning sun this web glistens in golden thread.

I'll be adding some more 'up close and personal' photos in the future.


One day, I was working on my sewing when I heard a commotion outside.

Glancing up I grabbed the closest camera and started shooting.

It was really unfortunate that the blinds were down, but a blurry photo  is better than none in this case.

A family of birds had called in for Brunch.
While Dad and Junior perched on the Japanese Maple outside the window.....

Mum decided Golden Orb Spider would make a tasty meal.

She made a couple of passes, trying to work out the right angle to approach from.........

I thought Shelob was 'done for' as Mama-Bird made her approach.
I didn't know whether to hold my breath or keep shooting - I didn't know who I wanted to win....All I knew was it was going to make a fantastic shot!

I was wishing I could get those blinds up!

As it was, it was over in a few seconds.

Shelob's web saved her.  She lost a leg in the attack but ultimately that beautiful web was too strong and the bird just gave up.

We first met Shelob in January.  She was only a small spider at the time and over the past 6 months, we have watched her and her web grow.  She threw out support lines across the path to the nearest trees, they went up to the guttering and across to the garage.  Her web is so strong that you can run your finger along the supports and feel the strength that is in it. I must admit wondering if I could thread a needle with it, it is as thick as the silk thread that I am sewing with.
Over the months we discovered that she is indeed very intelligent.  I placed an old clothes horse across the path to prevent the unsuspecting visitor from walking into the web and damaging it. Only to discover the next day that she had incorporated IT into her structure as well.  (Oh well, I don't use it very often!) AND with the extra support she moved the web ACROSS the path to catch the 'through traffic' of her favourite flies.

We also saw that Spider webs catch more than bugs......

That other 'tenants' are welcome as long as they do the housekeeping....


But when she did dry out - she could play that web like a harp.

She always had plenty of food - Which may explain why I did not have any flies in the house over the Summer....

                    "HEY MUM.............YOU WANT SOME SPIDER PORN ?"
                                             Huh? - What?????
                                          Ok, Grab the camera!

So, maybe you can see what all the commotion was all about.
While our Lady was occupied wrapping up her latest catch a very careful male decided to make his move.
We knew that she was about to be putting in a lot more weight!

And a LOT more weight she did put on.

We watched her carefully as her belly swelled

and then one -  day as I stared out the window


OK my precious, where are you?   Not in the spouting or wrapping up lunch?   Fixing your web? - you've kept it so tidy.



And then I saw it.


WOW, was I excited.  To be able to watch her secure this precious bundle of the most beautiful "Egg Yolk Gold" thread.  I grabbed the ladder to get a better vantage for my photographs - berating myself at the time for becoming a "Paparazzi" - give the girl some space - she's busy.

Not while there were photos to be had....

She worked tirelessly for most of the day, wrapping that egg sack in a protective camouflage of dry maple leaves.

The time that I had to witness this remarkable feat was fleeting.  By the time the family got home - it was so well hidden, they had to be shown where it was.

When she was finished , she rested a while legs spread over her precious bundle.  Protecting - she knew I was there, and there was NO WAY I was going to harm her babies.

She now just waits.

She doesn't clean or repair her web or show much interest in the food that comes by.

Other smaller spiders have moved in using the structure to their advantage.

She may just be hibernating, but she looks worn out.

I suspect it will not be until spring that we see any movement from the young ones.
I hope that I can witness their first moments before they catch the warming winds and float away to start the process all over again.
4th January 2012
Some readers have asked me ......
                     What happened to the Spider?         Did the eggs hatch?

Just after the last photo was posted, we noticed that she was still not repairing her web and the food was breaking free unchallenged. Gently we investigated and discovered that she had passed away.  So we removed her body and placed it beside her egg-sac and dismantled her web.

Today I walked past the tree where we left Shelob guarding her nest.  I glanced over to where she had left her golden bundle wrapped securely in a camouflage of dried leaves, and then I saw it.  A fluffy bundle of newly spun web .... 
................filled with Baby Spiders!

They scattered when I touched the leaves, but bunched up again when the 'threat' had passed.

One floated across and landed on DD's arm on a single thread. 
So, there you have it.  
A perfect end to our story.

A couple of people have sent me this link so I thought I'd add it to the story.  If you would like to see something awesome made from Orb Weaver Silk - check this out!
Victoria & Albert Museum - Golden Spider Silk Cape

FOOTNOTE:   If you would like to see the photos in a larger image - just click on the picture.
And please - RESPECT MY COPYRIGHT on these images and the story.


  1. Now this is amazing thank you for sharing these wonderful photos. Bunny

  2. I dont like spiders at all but read this story with much interest-- how lucky you were to see all this-- Thanks for sharing about the Golden Orb Spider---

  3. We have a large Liquidamber tree in our front yard, and every year, we have masses of orb weavers of various kinds, spinning webs. We always end up with a couple spinning across our patio. I love watching them. I was even lucky enough to watch the courting and mating of one couple one night...over an hour of courting and a few seconds of mating.

  4. Almost makes me feel bad about squashing the daddy long legs on my curtain a couple of nights ago. Crushing in the night gown that was on the way to the wash did not quite do it....he had to find his fatal end at the kitchen sink.
    Silly boy, flaunting himself on my bedroom curtains.

  5. Awww Wendy, you are a soul after my own heart. At a very early age, I was taught by my father to respect and admire spiders, and to this day, I won't kill them if I find them inside. Instead I trap them gently into a jar, and put them outside in the garden. I also love their webs, and just adore the tiny little babies! Sooooo cute!!

  6. Shelob is wonderful. She must also be astute knowing she is onto a good thing chez vous!