These come from reader Mark Richardson, who adds this (click photos to enlarge, they’re really nice when big):
All the photos were taken around my house (in Washington state) with a Nikon D2Xs and a 200mm f/4 micro lens. This is probably my favorite lens, but it requires a tripod so sometimes taking shots of arthropods can be tricky, especially if there is a breeze. I hope the files are of a good size and not too huge. I sized them way down, but the exquisite details can still be seen.
Two views of the Eight Spotted Skimmer (Thomisus spectabilis). The full view shows the conspicuous 8-spots on the wings. The other is a nice view of the head. I love dragonflies, but they don’t sit still for very long!
A male and female Garden Orb Weaver (Araneus diadematus…I think). These are very common around the Northwest, but it’s not common to see the male seeking to copulate. It was fascinating watching how he “courted” the female, gingerly touching her with his front legs and darting up and down her web…displaying dexterity on her web? Maybe you or an entomologist reader knows something about this behavior. Only the females weave webs, but the male could navigate it perfectly. After 10 minutes or so, the male fled the scene. The sexual dimorphism of this pair is also noteworthy.
The last photo is a beautiful White Crab Spider (Thomisus spectabilis). They are usually found on flowers of like colors. I have lots of white daisies, so perhaps that was where the spider did most of its hunting before moving on to this purple coneflower (Echinacea purpure).
I can’t resist a poem I remembered from my youth: it involves what is almost certainly a crab spider, but one sitting on a white flower.
by Robert Frost
I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth—
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth—
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.
What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?–
If design govern in a thing so small