Any arachnologists on here?

KneesUp

Guru
Near the little pond the kid and I dug in spring, there is a rather obvious, large web, with a red and white spider in the middle. Thanks to the wonder of the web (see what I did there) I know it is Araneus diadematus - aka the European Garden Spider or Cross Spider.

I've been keeping an eye on it but so far I've not seen it actually catch anything, and nor is there any evidence of saved food. The other day I found a dead bee in the garden - presumably caught out by the heavy rain - so I threw it at the web to see what would happen. What happened was:

1) the bee stuck to the web
2) the spider went and hid under a leaf - still on the web
3) eventually the spider ventured out and inspected the dead bee
4) the spider had a bit of a feel of the bee and then released it from the web


This made me wonder:
1) did the spider reject the bee because it knew it was a bee and it doesn't like bees?
2) did it reject the bee because it didn't struggle (on account of being dead) and therefore it didn't recognise it as prey?
3) if it was rejected because it didn't struggle, have any insects evolved 'play dead' as a strategy to be freed from spider webs?

Now - this morning I was in the garden having a coffee and a living bee flew into the web. It didn't struggle much, it stayed still for a while - but it's sting was primed - and the spider this time stayed in the middle of the web. I was hoping this might answer some of yesterdays questions, and/or provide a bit of a spectacle as the two of them had a scrap, but to my surprise the bee freed itself quite easily and flew off.

We seem to have a lot of different expertise on the forum - so any answers?

Ta
 

Venod

Eh up
Location
Yorkshire
Dead Bee or not dead bee, I bet the spider couldn't believe his outrageous fortune.
 
I have a friend that knows a bit about spiders. I'll ask him....

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OP
OP
KneesUp

KneesUp

Guru
So I’ve been to check on the spider this morning. Firstly I should say that the dead bee I found and the one I saw fly into the web were bumblebees, which are quite big obviously. This morning the spider actually has something in its web - woo hoo. Interestingly, it appears to be a honeybee, which is much smaller than a bumble bee. So maybe that was rejected for being too big and or hairy?
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I have a spider lives beside the window in my workshop. Last week a wasp came in and got stuck in the web. Spider out immediately and carried the wasp off to it’s lair. Never thought a spider would tackle an angry very lively wasp.
Last night I went into the bathroom and was confronted by a spider that was nearly as big as my hand.Got it into a pint mug fairly easily and dumped outside.
 
OP
OP
KneesUp

KneesUp

Guru
Spider Update.

It’s gone, and so has the web.

I think they eat the web if they have chance, to save on silk. I noticed last night that the bee seemed largely eaten, and spidey has retreated to a cup of leaves it had made by pulling them together with silk. That is still there, but no sign of old eight-legs.

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This leads to the obvious question: What shall I do with these live crickets?
 
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