Hummingbirds, Beware the Yellow and Black Argiope Spiders!

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Posted by @Gardenbees on
There was an attempted murder off our porch this afternoon. A hummingbird became caught in the web of a large yellow and black Argiope spider!

By the time I came upon the tragedy, the spider had already completely encased its victim. In fact, I could not see the hummingbird at all, just the white package made of the spider’s thread wrapped tightly around the poor bird. The large size of the package alerted me to the possibility that there might be a hummingbird inside. About that time, the web jerked. The spider was nearby and when the web jerked the second time, I was sure the spider had not caused the movement, so perhaps there was a chance the little bird was still alive. I also became aware that the bird call I was hearing was possibly coming from inside the package rather than from a distant tree. Carefully listening, I determined it certainly was the muffled screams of the frightened, desperate bird.

At that point I ran for a pair of thin gloves and, once protected, quickly tore the package from the web. Next was a run inside, tiny bundle in hand, to gather up my smallest scissors and best pair of splinter tweezers. I took a position on the bottom step outside and, adrenalin flowing, got to work cutting and gently pulling, wiping sections of the sticky thread off onto my shirt and all the while praying I’d not harm my tiny patient in the process of setting him free.

The exhausted captive by this time had gone limp. He really seemed to be dead but I was determined to remove the bonds and continued working as carefully and quickly as possible, turning him every minute or two instead of keeping him in one position too long. After several more minutes he again showed signs of life although there was no struggle whatsoever.

Eventually he tried to flee and promptly hit the concrete patio. Poor thing. It hurt me to see him thud, especially because he’d lost so many breast feathers that I’d been able to see his skin. At least it was only a 12-inch fall because I’d thought ahead and sat on the lowest step. At this point he was crying pitifully, wanting to fly but realizing he could not. I retrieved him and got back to work, soon finding more threads I’d missed. They were wrapped all the way around his upper body and also around one wing. How tedious was the job to cut and pull the threads away without injuring a wing or tiny foot. This time he began to help me! He seemed to be able to feel where the threads were and began preening, working threads from the top of a wing to the lower tip. From there I could grasp the threads with the tweezers and pull them completely off with one hand while supporting his wing with the other hand.

Soon the little fellow was ready to try again. This time he traveled about six feet and landed under the Elephant Ears, a rather safe place, and continued preening while perched on a Caladium leaf. Several minutes later he made a third attempt at flying but traveled only several inches off the ground. He paused a few seconds and then tried a fourth time. Success! His flight was slow, but he flew from the ground to the nearest Crape Myrtle and landed on a branch about eight feet off the ground! There he sat for another couple of minutes and then he determinedly took off, flying somewhat slowly but in a straight line, ten feet off the ground, until I could see him no more. An answered prayer! Victory! Hooray!

I know the Argiopes are said to be good garden spiders, but I’ll never allow one to build another web anywhere near our hummingbird feeders!

Thumb of 2015-09-15/Gardenbees/50203e

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Great story by Pandora Mar 30, 2016 1:28 PM 1
You deserve a medal! by LindaleeS Nov 8, 2015 8:22 PM 0
Congratulations! by maryjane Nov 8, 2015 6:08 AM 2
Hummingbird saved by Tuckersmom Nov 8, 2015 12:06 AM 23
You're a hero! by Rainbow Nov 7, 2015 10:12 PM 3
What a great story! by birdsandbl9 Nov 7, 2015 2:04 PM 1
Untitled by suesings Nov 7, 2015 4:51 AM 1

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