The Organ Pipe Mud Dauber

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “The Art Of Two Masons” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Scattered throughout the barns, sheds and attics of Eastern North America are clusters of nests that look like something from science fiction. Deep within the clay tubes the brood of a winged predator sleeps. Their armor is shiny black with blue highlights. Hidden within the tail is a venom that completely paralyzes it’s target but doesn’t kill. It’s sleek body moves through the air effortlessly. It’s eyes see into ranges that we can’t perceive. But this strange creature isn’t interested in world conquest. It simply wants to exist quietly and unnoticed. And if you’re one of millions of people who are put off by spiders the Organ Pipe Mud Dauber is your best friend.

As a kid we just called them mud daubers. And it wasn’t until I was much older that I learned that not all of them make tubes like ours do. I remember the first time I heard that high pitched humming outside of my grandfather’s bedroom window. He got a kick out of watching my look around for the source of the noise. Eventually he told me that it was just a “Dauber” talking. It’s really amazing to watch them work as they land on the edge of a puddle or pond or anywhere that they can find some wet clay. The wasp digs around and makes a little pellet of mud which it carries back to just the right spot to build a nest. They need a place that’s out of rain where the mud won’t be washed away. They need to be close to plenty of spiders and their favorite prey is the black widow. The female builds the nest with special mouth parts that actually have little paddles on the end for shaping the mud.

I have left this one at full size so you see the little paddle on the end of the mandible.

I have always assumed that the high pitched buzzing sound that they make was the wings drying out the fresh mud. However the wasp seen here was “singing” even though it’s wings were not moving.

Mud Daubers are actually downright friendly when it comes to humans. The one here was really curious about the giant who was watching her work. She actually flew up and looked in the eye before going back to work. I was always afraid of wasps but the mud dauber wasps are as tug at as honeybees. I’m sure that if I’d tried to interfere with the nest that she would have become defensive but she didn’t really seem to mind me being right on top of her while she worked. Like a rattlesnake the mud dauber usually gives us a warning that we’re making them nervous. They’ll flick their wings as if to say “back off!” I really wouldn’t recommend pushing them but it seems to be a bluff. I have never had one make good in the threat. They’re almost domesticated. Venom is biologically expensive to produce and they need it to breed. The tubes are sectioned into cells and each cell contains a living but paralyzed spider for the young to feed on.

Nobody wants to have them inside the house but when you see that alien looking mud tube on the side of a shed or rocky outcrops near the home then it only means they’re out there keeping the spiders under control.

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The String Of Diamonds

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my blog. Tonight’s feature image is “Morning Treasures” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

The soft mists float through my Appalachian Mountains after a night of heavy drizzle. The morning sun breaks through the clouds revealing clusters of shimmering diamonds on silk strings. They are scattered all over the abandoned strip mine. If not for the fact that I was heading into my day job, I would have thought that I had stumbled upon some fairy treasure trove in the dreamworld. But this isn’t the work of elves and pixies. These magical tapestries are woven by the spiders.

Each droplet seems to float in the air forming a perfect sphere. Most of the webs are chaotic teepee shaped masses but one stands out from the others. One is an Orb-weaver.

All spiders are genetically programmed to make whatever kind of web it is that they weave. But the Orb-weaver seems to blend engineering and art. Regardless of how the web is anchored the spacing between the chords comes out even. Well, most of the time. Nobody gets it right the first time. Everyone has to practice and even then everyone makes mistakes. Even those who are genetically programmed with the engineering pattern. Young spiderlings have the pattern but mot the experience.

Though I don’t really want them in the house I do try to tolerate them in gardens and around the property as part of my pest control. Especially the Orb-weaver spiders whose webs continue to work to catch pests well after the spider has moved on.

Most people today are aware of how strong a spider’s web is. What looks like a monofilament strand of silk is actually a spun cable made of multiple fibers. But there’s more. A spider web is held together with two types of liquid. There’s the sticky goo that we’re all familiar with and there is a natural preservative. Spiders wrap up their prey in silken cocoons to preserve it. Science has confirmed that the second liquid has antibiotic and antifungal properties. If you’ve ever heard that in folk medicine to put a clean spider’s web on a cut there’s more to it than just covering the wound and stopping the bleeding. A fresh spider’s web might actually prevent infection.

The dew covered web has been on my “target list” for a while and I want to get different angles and aspects as opportunity allows but for now the clock is ticking and I only have a few minutes to get what I can before I start my shift. As I snap a few extra clicks of the shutter the vibration of my smartphone alerts me that I’m out of time. Whith any luck this spider will keep this spot for a while and I’ll have another opportunity to see water droplets glistening in the sun.

I should also give a shout out to my favorite spider of all time on YouTube. LUCAS!

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

https://www.facebook.com/aviewfromthelens/

If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Click the web to go tohttps://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simply message me on Facebook oruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer.

Thank you again for your support of my page!

An Encounter With A Crabby Little Spider

My Appalachian Mountains are full of wildlife. Directly across from the trees I posted yesterday is a cattail forest. Just standing on the edge of the road I could see how diverse the wetland. Climbing up one of cattail stalks a wild Morning Glory. And climbing up the Morning Glory was a tiny Crab Spider. Now, Crab Spiders are not particularly dangerous to humans. In fact, usually they are welcomed in gardens. They are often brightly colored and sometimes have beautiful patterns on their bodies. The colors and patterns are part of their natural camouflage. The little spider crawled across the bloom and backed down into the center and set up it’s ambush. I closed in for a tighter frame and I could almost hear a tiny voice in my imagination say, “Psst, move along. You’re scaring away my prey.” “Okay little hunter. But, no more stringing your web across my path. Deal? I replied in my imaginary voice. “Okay deal, now get outta here” was the imaginary reply. With my childish impulses well satisfied I snapped the shutter and left the little guy to his hunting.

Capturing A Dragon ( An eight year quest)

My grandfather had some unique names for what is commonly called a dragonfly. Usually he called it a “Snakedoctor”. Irregardless of the name insects of the order Odonata are notoriously hard to catch. I have purposefully trekked out to lakes and ponds just to find these but as soon as I raise the camera they move. I have a whole string of blurry images of dragonflies and damselflies that could just as easily be a Sasquatch picture.

But here is the first one that is actually in focus! Even on the cool morning that I found this one it took several tries to get a good shot. The order’s name odonata literally means flying tooth. From the moment they hatch these things devour mosquitoes! They are a great control method for the little bloodsucking pests that will not poison the food chain. The one here is of the most common type but there are brightly colored ones here too. Greens and blues are also common. They’re like flying gemstones around our bodies of water. If I can catch one staying still for long enough to get the right picture it will be published in color.

I still haven’t figured out why the old-timers call them Snakedoctors ( and sometimes Witchdoctors) but I’m always taken back to my childhood summers when I see one.