By Larry Marx
I was in East Texas with family walking through the woods. I never would have seen these little guys if my sister-in-law, an A&M grad and school district science coordinator, hadn’t followed a slender spider thread to a tiny spider hanging between trees. It looked like an armored smiling jewel or shield. (They are called the Spiny Orb Weaver or spiked spider.)
Once one was discovered, it was fun finding others in several different colors, including bright orange.
Photographing one successfully was difficult. They are so small that auto focus doesn’t see them, and manual focus was pretty hard hand-hold. They tend to move in the breeze, and it’s hard to stand still enough to get one in focus.
I’m looking forward to returning in a few weeks to the family farm with some better equipment to take closeup photos. I may see how many color varieties I can capture!