Even arachnophobes can admire the architecture of an orb web. However, I feel averse to other kinds of spider webs so much that I hardly ever look at them. I’ve seen sheet webs lying in a meadow on a dewy morning and steered far around them without a second thought. My guess is many people feel the same way, particularly photographers. It’s relatively hard to find good images of the other kinds of spider web online.
Walking this morning, I would have passed this web instinctively. The sight of a wet web in a yew hedge beside the path was repugnant. But with camera in hand, those glistening droplets pricked my conscience: “Just stop!”
I drew nearer. My perspective quickly changed. The macro lens revealed something that defies description.
I hardly knew anything about the different kinds of web until I got home and tried to figure out what kind of spider makes this one. Bay Nature from San Francisco offers good drawings of the basic types. I still don’t know much. Having failed to note the overall structure when I had my eye to the camera, I can’t tell whether this is a sheet web or a tangle web (also called a cobweb, the kind associated with black widows and their kin). There are also funnel webs, tunnel webs, and numerous variations on the basic themes.
I’ll take this as a reminder of how ignorant I am about things I don’t like. When we set aside arachnophobia or any kind of prejudice, beauty and wonder can lead to respect.