Our trash gets picked up on Mondays, so I am usually busy around the yard with last minute clean-up details before the trash truck comes. This morning I managed to notice a couple of bugs, so in between trash duty, I got my camera and took these pictures.
The weather has been so dry, we haven't had many crane flies, but this is their season, so I am noticing a few here and there. Two years ago, when we had a record-breaking rainy season, we had tons of them.
This is what is commonly called a trash-web spider. They build a small orb-web surrounded by a seemingly random collection of threads that go out in all directions. And they always hang onto the little dried shells of their victims' bodies, and, I suppose, whatever else lands in their web. It all grows into a little collection of "trash" and the spider lives right on top of the pile.
Unlike other spiders, it seems to keep the same web (and the trash) for a very long time, although I am guessing it re-weaves the orb part as needed.
This spider just made a whole new web last night, partly connected to a trash can that I had filled with tree trimmings. Maybe it had lived among those very branches before I cut them. In any case, the web was brand new and trash free. I felt a little bad for having to disrupt it again by moving the trash can to haul it to the curb.