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Snow Spider

3-14-13 snow spider IMG_6089It’s always surprising to find any form of life crawling on top of the snow, but for some reason spiders seem particularly fragile and susceptible to the elements. There are species, however, that remain active in winter, even in the northeast. Most live in the leaf litter beneath the snow, but they often emerge when temperatures are about 25°F to 35°F. Tentative I.D. has the spider in the photograph belonging to the genus Tetragnatha.

15 responses

  1. Bruce Kennett

    What do they find to eat?

    March 14, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    • I would imagine tiny dormant insects and invertebrates overwintering in the leaf litter, Bruce.

      March 14, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    • BioBob

      Lots of insects are active in winter too. Stoneflies, beetles, midges, etc.

      February 13, 2016 at 6:06 pm

  2. Marie Kirn

    I see Louise Bourgeois’ metal spider in this lovely creature. You can’t see that his toes split in two at the tips!!! You are spectacular, Mary! See you at 6. M

    March 14, 2013 at 12:36 pm

  3. Susan MacKenzie

    Appreciate these little guys. We saw them about a month ago during a warm spell in Maine. Spring is definitely on its way.

    March 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm

  4. Kathy Schillemat

    Had a similar sighting just this past Monday on our outing. Spider walking across the snow-covered surface of Rye Pond in Nelson. I can’t imagine how daunting it must look from her perspective to set out to cross a frozen body of water in winter.

    March 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm

  5. About how long did it take you to actually locate this snow spider?

    March 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    • This is a hard question to answer, Mariette, as I wasn’t exactly looking for it. I was on about a two-hour snowshoe and happened across it!

      March 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm

  6. Do snow spiders feed on the springtails (Collembola) that frequently inhabit the snow surface in large numbers winter?

    March 14, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    • What a great question, Craig! I don’t know, but will try to find out. If you find out from another source, I’d love to hear about it!

      March 14, 2013 at 7:31 pm

  7. catherine fisher

    I’ve read that many spiders live in the crevices of tree bark and remain active throughout the winter, following the warmth as sunlight winds its way around the tree trunk. I’ve never found a spider on the snow, but often have seen spider silk drifting from a tree trunk. Wonderful photograph!

    March 15, 2013 at 12:54 am

  8. Kathie Fiveash

    Dear Mary,
    I found what I think was the same spider a couple of weeks ago and wrote a poem about it;


    On the crust of snow I found a spider
    fragile, translucent, miniscule, alone
    on the daunting crystalline expanse.
    Our paths had intersected, and my own
    life paused imagining her living,
    what she might find to eat, and how she moves
    her slender legs all winter, and the place
    she finds to hide at night – inside the grooves
    of bark, perhaps or underneath a stone.
    Both of us have a journey, and a way
    of managing, and obstacles to pass
    and when the night descends, a place to stay.

    March 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    • Kathie, your poem is so beautiful! I absolutely love it. I had not really put myself in it’s place until I read your poem. Thank you for expanding my experience.

      March 17, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    • Kathie, I just rediscovered your spider poem, and love it! Waiting for your next book (of poetry)!

      February 13, 2016 at 6:43 pm

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