Subject: Nephila pilipes??
Location: Sumatra, Indonesia
February 5, 2013 7:39 am
I’ve come across a couple of these spiders here in Sumatra, and I’ve been identifying them as some kind of Nephilia pilipes subspecies. Do you know if I’m correct? I’ve been posting them on Project Noah, so would love to know if I need to change that! Thanks so much!
Spiders in the genus Nephila are known as Golden Silk Spiders or Golden Web Spiders because the silk they spin is noticeably golden in coloration. We looked at some online images of Nephila pilipes on Arachne.org.au and on Encyclopedia of Life, and though they are similar to your spider, the coloration on the legs is quite different. Your individual has much redder legs. While we know there is individual variation, we are also aware that there are numerous members of the genus Nephila found in the Old World, so we did a web search for Indonesia and we were led to an old posting on our site titled Batik Golden Web Spider and the identification Nephila antipodiana with citations. We checked the citations and found that the Guide to Common Singapore Spiders provides this identification information: “The female has completely black palps and legs, without any red or yellow joints.” That information disagrees with your spider as well as our posting, leading us to believe that Nephila antipodiana might not be a correct identification for either your spider or our old posting. The other citation, Malaysian Spiders, also shows photos with black legs. Now we are stuck with having visually matched your spider to another spider from our archives, also from Indonesia, that can only be conclusively identified to the genus level. Additional searching led to another possibility being Nephila vitiana which we found on the Foto Biodiversitas Indonesia website, but it is difficult to match your spider to the photo of an immature specimen provided. Alas, we cannot say for certain what species you have photographed, but if you ever learn for certain, please let us know so we can update this posting as well as our archive. At the risk of alienating our readership, we must come clean with you and inform you that we have no scientific credentials, and like many other places on the internet, the information you learn on What’s That Bug? cannot always be trusted. Though we strive for accuracy, we are frequently wrong. We are not a scientific site, but rather a pop culture site with the mission to promote tolerance of the lower beasts. Since our background is photography and fine art, we took the liberty of color correcting the extreme yellow of your photo which brings out the contrast in the abdominal markings much better.
Thanks so much for taking the time to look at this, Daniel! After looking at the Batik Golden Spider in your link (that may or may not be a Batik Golden Spider after all), and taking a closer look at the pattern on the spider I photographed (I’ve uploaded a hard crop for you to compare as well), I don’t know if I would say that they’re a visual match. Besides the body seeming to be a bit shorter and thicker, the pattern seems closer to the spiders in these links which are identified as pilipes, except of course for the the red legs (maybe just a color morph?):
But, of course, who knows how correct those identifications are!
Incidentally, here’s another spotting that I had of what seems to be a spider with an identical pattern, with the only difference seeming to be the solid black legs. http://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/13025052
Oops, forgot to attach the crop.
I also found this website where the spider has red legs and is identified as pilipes. Incidentally, we’re not too far from Bengkulu/Curup.
Hi again Nicholas,
We updated the posting with your new information.