As a wildlife photographer exploring my property near the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas, I had a unique encounter with a spider exhibiting a fascinating behavior – shooting its web into the air from a wooden fence post.
I was able to capture this rare sight on camera using my Fujifilm X-T3 with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens and Fringer EF-FX Pro adapter attached. With the camera set to Aperture Priority at f/5.6 and ISO 800, I photographed the spider at 400mm focal length, getting shots at 1/2900s shutter speed with -.03 exposure value.
Unlike ground spiders that catch prey in sticky webs, this spider was rapidly spraying strands of silk straight up into the air. While observing it, I began to wonder – what purpose could this strange behavior serve?
After doing some research, I learned this aerial web spraying is likely a form of “ballooning.” Some spiders use silk strands to catch air currents and disperse to new locations. This spider was possibly attempting to balloon away for mating or to find new territory.
Catching this cryptic spider behavior on camera was an exciting event for me as a wildlife photographer. It serves as a reminder that even in my own backyard there are fascinating natural wonders to discover, if you keep your eyes peeled. The intricate, instinctive behaviors of spiders never cease to amaze me!
Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer