Catch of the Day: Bowls and Doilies
Spring 2024
Boulder Creek, California

I put my macro lens to the test, trying to capture two of my favorite subjects: water and tiny creatures usually overlooked.

It was early spring when I took these photos and the spiders were still building their webs. They are called “bowl and doily” spiders (Frontinella pyramitela) because they create a two layer web, a bottom bowl-shaped structure and a top flattened web (the doily). The spiders hang underneath their woven trap, waiting for small flies, gnats and other insects to become entangled. The spiders are tiny, only about 0.16 inch.

Bowl and doily spiders are common throughout North and Central America. You will find them in unmowed meadows and on shrubs.

These spiders have lengthy and elaborate courtship practices. I mention this because it might be easy to assume a creature so small and “primitive” might have simple reproductive behaviors. Instead they have developed complex interactive protocols and rituals. All creatures have relationships and communication systems, no matter how different from our own.

I also love photographing water in its many forms; it captures the beauty and miracle of planet Earth. These droplets were also minuscule, even more minute than the spiders. Yet they reflect the intricate Universe around them, becoming whole worlds in themselves.

Take a look at Norwegian photographer Heidi Westum, who specializes in water droplets. I can understand why she focuses on these primarily. I might too if there weren’t so many other wonders to discover.

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