OF all insects, no one is more wonderful than the spider, especially with respect to their sagacity admirable way of working.....
And what is still more wonderful, I know I have several times seen, in a very calm and serene day at that time of year, standing behind some opaque body that shall just hide the disk of the sun and keep off his dazzling rays from my eye, multitudes of little shining webs and glistening strings of a great length, and at such a height as (that one would think they were tacked to the sky by one end, were it not that they were moving and floating. And there often appears at the end of these webs a spider floating and sailing in the air with them, which I have plainly discerned in those webs that were nearer to my eye. And once [I] saw a very large spider, to my surprise, swimming in the air in this manner, and others have assured me that they often have seen spiders fly.
from : Of Insects by Jonathan Edwards (1723, age 20)
*Ps (I know Spiders are not now called insects, but I suspect the usage has changed since the young Mr. Edwards wrote.)
For the full letter/essay see:
Flying Orb (c) by Kirk Jordan
Orb one: Sun
Orb two: Sun on water
Orb three: Orb Spider
Today's Mighty Work features the astonishing first stages of what "will" be a huge orb "wheel" web, as built by an astonishing Orb spider -- This one building on the bank of Spencer Lake in Conway Arkansas (October 2007)
I had the pleasure of watching this Orb for about twenty minutes. It was in the beginning stages of the web, and was working the large outer perimeter, after establishing what appeared to be a three strand "frame." (I understand that the web will become more "visible" as it progresses. After establishing a minimal frame, the spider will go back over the web and give portions greater strength, then add the sticky inner fibers last of all.)
As is, Orbs take to building gigantic webs with visible flourish every Indian Summer in Arkansas. I don't know what these spiders do, or where they hide the rest of the year, but I have seen that there are a few weeks every Fall, usually just before Halloween, in which the Orbs go to town. (More on Orb webs in a future MW edition)
For more on Orb Spiders see:
The Mighty Works Project exists to join with Jonathan Edwards in praising "the exuberant goodness of the Creator, who hath not only provided for all the necessities, but also for the pleasure and recreation of all sorts of creatures, and even the insects and those that are most despicable."