Along the Ninnescah River this afternoon, I stopped to study an unusual orb-weaving spider building a web among barren limbs. It was a long-jawed orb weaver, common in Kansas aquatic situations. The genus was easy to identify. Tetragnatha spiders are often called stretch spiders because of their very long legs and elongated body. When threatened, they extend their front and hind legs, allowing their narrow bodies to “hide” on a blade of grass or a twig.
Stretch spiders differ from other orb weavers in hanging their webs at an angle to the vertical plane. Watch here as the spider engineers its web, pulling silk from its spinnerettes and attaching it at precise points to form the orb. It feeds on flying insects that emerge from the water. And since it tends to live in colonies, it’s not uncommon for one spider to accidentally become a meal in another’s web.