I sent some photos of Emily and George to Dr. Jerome Rovner from the American Arachnological Association and he wrote back that I had mis-identified her as a branch-tip spider.
Emily is a hackled orbweaver, specifically Uloborus glomosus the featherlegged orbweaver. Which sounds like the name of a sword from Tolkien:
Elrond looked up, his brow furrowed "This blade the runes name Uloborus glomosus the featherlegged orbweaver. Keep it well."
"I shall wear this with honor!" replied Thorin.
I have learned some really interesting things -- specifically that Uloborus is the only family of non-venomous spiders -- Emily and George have no venom glands -- they kill their prey rather by constriction, wrapping it up tightly in silk. And also that the cribellate spiders, of which Emily is one, are what is know as "hackled web spiders" -- their silk is not sticky, may be the reason why her web is a total mess and not some fancy geometric pattern -- it's more of a net than a tar pit. When something flies into it, it gets tangled, not stuck, and she has to leap on it and wrap it up before it escapes (this crazy procedure I was lucky enough to see a few days ago.) There's also some amazing science-stuff that I've read about the hackled web silk that I'll post later.
Also, another entemologist known as Dr. Bug wrote to tell me that as Uloborids provide parental care, including the male, and the big news is that George and Emily will move into a web together once the spiderlings appear and raise them together!
I'm not sure why the thought of a two parent household fills me with joy -- probably mostly because I like the idea that George isn't a deadbeat, even if he's useless at catching flies. I also like the thought that tiny little babies aren't left alone in the world to be eaten, but that their parents look out for them.
(Also, since people seemed concerned in the comments, Dr. Bug said that apart from Black Widows, female spiders do not eat their mates, and among Black Widows, it rarely happens outside of a laboratory.)
I am defending you, my people! From the fly that tried to get into the house!
Clickenzee to embiggen the joy of Emily the Fierce, door soldier to people!
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