Bola (bolas) spider
What a wonderful site you have! I do not have an insect I wish to identify, but I do have a spider that I think you will appreciate having on your site. It is a bola (or bolas) spider (please correct me if I am wrong). I’ve never seen one in my 52 years, and I spent 12 hours over several nights getting the following shots. It was very hard to catch her while her droplet of attractant was hanging. Any disturbance and she would reel it back up for a half hour. Lighting was from two separate 8-LED flashlights mounted on both sides of the camera.

I was also fortunate enough to find her daytime resting spot (she looked just like a bird dropping). To top it off, weeks later she made an egg sack! (I didn’t know what image size you desire, hope these aren’t too poor quality, or too large a download).
Steve Davis
Wadesville, Indiana

Hi Steve,
Your are far too humble. Your photos are wonderful. Your night action photos are quite spectacular. According to Audubon: “This spider does not spin a web, but produces a dangling silken line with a globule at the end that resembles the South American bola. Supposedly the 2 protuberances on the spider attract male moths. The spider waits for the moth to approach, then throws its bola at the moth, usually snaring its wings. The spider drops down on a line spun from its spinnerets and eats the entrapped moth.”

Bolas spider. (11/21/2006)
That bolas spider story and images are just too cool!!! I have never seen one either. I didn’t know they ranged that far north, actually. I was under the impression they were chiefly tropical arachnids. They are not little tiny things, either! My understanding is that the spider actually manufactures a secretion that mimics the pheromones of certain moth species, thus attracting the male moths. Whether this substance is on the spider itself, or applied to the globular ball, I don’t know. Truly fascinating, though. The submitter should get some kind of award for his patience and observation skills!
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Lisa.

7 Responses to Bola Spider

  1. Gydney says:

    I live in Torrance area of southern California, and just found a Bola(s) in my backyard. Thought it was a tiny frog at first, ’till I turned it over and saw the legs! I have never seen one around here before, in 60 years. My old reference book says east coast only. But looks like they’ve moved slowly across the continent. There is a great video on youtube from the science series that David Attenborough did on the BBC, showing one throwing its bola and catching a moth. Amazing!

  2. bendhall says:

    Hey Daniel, You took some great pictures. Thanks for the article post. I am putting together a short video about the Bola Spider. Would it be possible for me to use the pictures you took in my video? Please email and let me know. Thank you Daniel!

    Benjamin =)

    • bugman says:

      Dear bendhall,
      DAniel did not take the photographs. Rather the photographs were submitted to What’s That Bug? and the rights to the images remain with the photographer.

  3. Bob says:

    Hi Daniel. We have recently written an article on the bolas spider, and we have found your images of the bolas spider to be ideal for our article on We would like to have permission to include your images in our project and would gladly acknowledge you and your site. If you have any objections, please email me back. Thank you.

    • bugman says:

      Hi Bob,
      When you originally wrote to us, you provided considerably more information, including: “I am Bob Saludo. I work for, a startup that receives grants from the Department of Education. We are creating online educational tools and are teaching reading strategies to encourage students from grades 3 to 8 to read nonfiction scientific articles.” Since you are an education site for children and you will not be profiting from the use of these images, we will grant your request, especially since you wrote: “We would like to have permission to include your images in our project and would gladly acknowledge you and your site.” Thank you for requesting permission. Though image copyright remains with the photographer, our disclaimer on our submission form reads: “By submitting an identification request and/or photo(s), you give permission to use your words and image(s) on their website and other publications.”

  4. Sherry says:

    I live in Torrance, CA 90504 and have had a massively beautiful Bola who had deposited 12 EGG SACS one after the other. How long does it take for them to hatch??

    • bugman says:

      The will most likely hatch after the end of winter. Most Orbweavers only live one season, and the spiders hatch in the spring and mature in the fall.

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