December 7, 2009
My sister found this in her house in Topanga Canyon Southern California. I can’t find a picture that matches the back side “shield” though-almost looks like an orb weaver lost in the house?
This is an Orbweaver in the genus Araneus, probably Araneus gemma according to images posted to BugGuide. It is described as: “Female: carapace and abdomen vary in color from gray to brownish purple. The abdomen has anterior paired humps and may have a medial light stripe that varies in length.
Male: similar in color and pattern to the female.“ We often have problems identifying the Orbweavers to the species level. Interestingly, Charles Hogue, in his book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, describes a species Araneus gemmus and it is called the Jeweled Araneus. We believe A. gemma and A. gemmus are probably the same species, though BugGuide does not recognize Hogue’s taxonomy. This species builds webs in trees and shrubs around homes. Hogue indicates the spiders are active at night and that the webs may be 6 to 8 feet across.