uncatalogued Nephila species, or Argiope ocula?
Location: Taiwan
October 4, 2011 1:23 pm
Taiwan is full of amazing animals. Is this critter an example of Nephila, and if so, has the species been identified? Or is this gorgeous beast an Argiope ocula? I was very interested in the post by bugman on January 17, 2011, and the following discussion regarding genus and species. My first impression is that the spider in this picture and the spider in bugman’s picture are not the same genus -despite the similar translucent red legs. Bugman’s spider strikes me as Argiope, whereas this one appears to be Nephila. What do you think?
Signature: Dane Harris

Golden Silk Spider

Dear Dane,
We agree with your speculation that this is a Golden Silk Spider in the genus
Nephila, and not Argiope ocula, the Taiwanese spider we posted in January 2011.  Golden Silk Spiders take their name from the beautiful golden silk they spin, one of the strongest fibers that has been woven into clothing.  You can read about the shawl that was woven by Golden Silk Spiders from Madagascar on the Ecouterre website.  Your spider doesn’t look too different from the Australian Nephila rufapoda on the OzarkWild website that states this in its totality:  “Nephila rufapoda Ross 2003 is about the biggest spider in Australia : with RED LEGS bigger than male handspan, totally new to science and a sensation, now in captivity, has bred and awaiting 2000 babies… I’ve just finished 494 night walks on a 3 year research project and what an incredible experience…
Nephila Rufapoda…locality Kuranda rainforest, 17 degrees south of equator, leg span 200mm, leg thickness letter ‘o’, large orb web high in canopy, (which is why not seen before). Eats small birds and cicadas, males 5mm rusty brown, related to other Nephila orb weavers but larger. At last count there were 28,700 spiders known from Australia BUT only 7,000 have been described. It costs up to $1,500 to describe a species and can take 3-4 years to get published. By ROSCO  Dr R J Ross”

Location: Taiwan

9 Responses to Golden Silk Spider from Taiwan

  1. Dane Harris says:

    Thanks so much for your help! Assuming that I can find another example of this Nephila, is there a way for me to compare my specimen with information available on previously catalogued specimens (like the rufapoda, especially) with an eye toward establishing wether or not this is a new species?

    Thanks again!

    • bugman says:

      Sorry, but we don’t have any entomology or biology credentials. We just do visual matches based on observations and comparisons.

  2. Dane Harris says:

    I thought bugman took the picture (“is this guy based in Taiwan?” I asks), but now I see bugman answered the query. I didn’t really expect whatsthatbug.com to officially begin the documentation process on this spider. But, do you have any idea where I can go to find information on that process? I checked the Ozarkwild website, but I didn’t immediately find any clues there.

  3. Dane Harris says:

    Fair enough -this website is a tremendous amount of fun, and I’m looking forward to sending you more pics from Taiwan!

  4. Dane Harris says:

    This image of a red-legged Nephila was the number two ranked image (after only Dr. RJ Ross’ original picture) tagged as a search result for Nephila rufapoda -as of two days ago.

    Sometime yesterday, this pic was completely removed from Google images and is now unavailable.

    Is that strange?

    • bugman says:

      Hi Dane,
      Not sure what that means. Did you post your photo to google images? For the record, we are not claiming that this is Nephila rufapoda, only that the Australian species was the closest match we could find for your Taiwanese spider.
      P.S. We just got our answer when we found this posting on Google.

  5. Dane Harris says:

    Strange, huh?

  6. Dane Harris says:

    It IS cool looking, isn’t it?
    I did get some closure on this question.
    The spider is (probably) Nephila pilipes. Nephila pilipes occasionally have variations in melanin that cause the legs to appear red. That has been pretty well documented by universities here on the island.

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