Photo of the Week – April 28, 2016

During a walk in our family prairie last week, I found a spider web spanning the entrance to a badger tunnel.

Spider and web at the entrance of a badger hunting tunnel (where a badger had dug a tunnel to catch a ground squirrel or some other small creature. Helzer family prairie. nebraska.

If you look closely, you can see the spider near the top of the tunnel entrance.

When I pulled in close with my camera, the shadow behind the web and the bright sunlight on the spider contrasted beautifully.

ENPO160422_D003

It might be tempting to think the spider was trying to catch a badger except for three things.  First, that would probably end badly for the spider, and natural selection usually takes care of that kind of thing.  Second, spiders often string webs across any opening that could act as a funnel for flying insects.  A badger hole makes as much sense as any other, I suppose.  Third, this wasn’t a tunnel a badger lived in, just a hole dug while a badger was hunting a ground squirrel or some other small burrowing animal.  Most badger-made tunnels are of that ilk, and if you look closely at them, you can usually see the end of the tunnel within a few feet of the surface.

I do think it’s funny to think about what might happen if a spider hung a web across the opening of an active badger home, though.  I’m imagining a badger emerging from its tunnel in the morning and then hopping around shouting “OOOH!! Ick!  Spider web on my head! Spider web on my head!!”

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
This entry was posted in Prairie Animals, Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Photo of the Week – April 28, 2016

  1. Pat says:

    Cracked me up! A good laugh is always appreciated. :)

  2. Joanne says:

    ‘Tis funny alright. Thanks for the laugh..

  3. Smith, Bill (Ext) says:

    Reminds me of the old Far Side cartoon (you remember those, don’t you?) A couple spiders strung a web across the bottom of a slide as a kid was about to come down. One spider says to the other: “We pull this off, we’ll eat like kings!”.
    I enjoy your posts, thanks for doing them.
    Bill

  4. No one likes to walk through a spider web; not even badgers! :)

  5. Matt Roberts says:

    Nice photography! My guess is the badger probably don’t care about a spider lol!

  6. Ernest Ochsner says:

    Hey Chris congratulations on the article in Nebraska Life magazine.
    I always knew you’d come to something someday.
    Spider webs make great hairnets.

  7. Troy Mullens says:

    Enjoyed this a lot

  8. Pingback: Prairie Dog Spider | The Prairie Ecologist

  9. Terri Abbett says:

    I did field work one summer in the forests of northern Missouri and walked through lots of webs. I did the spider Web dance a few times just like your imaginary badger. Oooh ick ick web on my face.

  10. B. Kis says:

    Nice photo, long jawed orb weaver., Tetragnatha sp.?

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