Today is hot and oppressive in Virginia. There’s the constant sound of insects, a noisy hum of the motorway and clinging grey skies above. It’s been raining and there’s the smell of wet earth. My boots are dirty, the paths are overgrown and I’m being bitten by mosquitoes.
Then I see it; like a shining stone suspended by magic in mid-air:
It’s an Orchard Orb-Weaver spider, Leucauge venusta. I try to bend down to photograph it but I’m surrounded by prickly, sticky and stinging plants. Its body is like a glass container full of silver paint. I walk away and then around it hoping for a better angle and can see its underside. What a stunning spider:
It may be common here but it’s a rare experience for me.