It’s that time of year: reader Diana MacPherson is fattening up her Eastern chipmunks and sending some cute photos and captions:
The chipmunks have finally figured out how to open & eat the peanuts. I also just paid $300 more to remove seeds & leaves out of my car again. I feed them, I give them water & this is what they do to me!!
Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) Opening Peanut:
Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) Opening Peanut Pauses While Nibbling Peanut
Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) Opening Peanut Pauses While Nibbling Peanut Nibbles Peanut
Reader Tom Hennessy sent some photos of the orb weaver, a lovely spider:
While visiting the Outer Banks are of North Carolina last week [this was sent in late August], we stopped by the Elizabethan Gardens, primarily for some flower photography. While there, my wife noticed a large female black and yellow orb weaver spider (Argiope aurantia). These are striking creatures, and weave a large web with a very noticeable zig zag pattern in the web; I assume it aids stability in the large web. As the week went on we saw a number of these in the trees and brush along the sound. I took the photos with my Canon 6D and either a 100 mm macro lens or a 100 to 400 mm zoom lens.
Now if you’ve seen these, or looked at the photo above, you’re surely asking yourself, “Why do they weave that little squiggle into the web?” The answer, as is so often the case, is that we just don’t know. Tom suggests it stabilizes the web, but Wikipedia says this:
The web of the yellow garden spider is distinctive: a circular shape up to 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter, with a dense zigzag of silk, known as a stabilimentum, in the center. The purpose of the stabilimentum is disputed. It is possible that it acts as camouflage for the spider lurking in the web’s center, but it may also attract insect prey, or even warn birds of the presence of the otherwise difficult-to-see web. Only those spiders that are active during the day construct stabilimenta in their webs.
Finally, reader Karen Bartelt sent two photos that, while not technically readers’ wildlife photos, tell a fascinating story—one related to Chicago. Her explanation:
These two photos are from Silver Lake State Park in Michigan. The wooded shoreline was logged in the 1870’s to rebuild Chicago after the Great Fire. The ecosystem never recovered, and reverted to massive dunes. It’s almost 150 years later, and there are still almost no shrubs or trees. If you go to most of the other parks along Lake Michigan’s eastern shore, you can see what this area looked like originally.