Bowl and Doily Spider Webs

 Bowl and Doily spiderweb

All these years here I had not bothered to name the tenants of these familiar distinctive webs but to call them “double decker” spiders, known far more by their product than their presence. They disappear as the camera lens gets close enough for a portrait of the landlord.

Somebody I was hiking with once called them “bunk bed” spider webs, and I kind of liked that, but was not able to run down the actual spider using that creative common name.

These webs obviously belong to the “sheet web” spider group (versus the spoke-line webs that are more familiar). And it turns out, the common name that is widely accepted for this particular sheet spider is the “bowl and doily” spider.

See it: the denser upper web is the rounded bowl sitting in the spider’s parlor on a lace doily. It is between these two webs that the spider’s hapless meals intrude before being had over for dinner.

These webs are rarely photogenic, being often under trees and horizontally situated. They catch every tiny fragment of detritus shed by the overstory and soon–even without the morning dew here–become quite visible with their burden of plant bits.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Oh yes – I remember these sorts of webs from my days as a kid growing up in Loudon County, VA! We don’t have them in California (do we?) Your shot is just incredible! As always your photos are amazing. Thanks for inspiring the “creepy” memories of have of growing up and finding these webs!