Candystripe Spider: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell

Candystripe spiders are fascinating creatures worthy of our attention. These small but colorful arachnids display intriguing behaviors and play a crucial role in ecosystems, controlling insect populations.

In this article, we’ll share all you need to know about Candystripe spiders, including their appearance, habitat, and unique characteristics.

These striking spiders show off a distinctive red stripe on their otherwise pale bodies, making them easily identifiable. They can be found in various environments, such as woodlands, gardens, and grasslands.

Candy Stripe Spider (Enoplognatha ovata), Martin’s garden, 20 September 2012.

Source: Flickr, Username: Peter O’Connor Copyright: CC BY-SA 2.0

Understanding their specific features can enrich our observations of nature and build appreciation for these beneficial creatures.

Some standout characteristics of Candystripe spiders include their orb-shaped webs and exceptional agility.

They create meticulously designed webs to trap unsuspecting prey, and their jumping skills enable them to pounce on their target effectively.

With this knowledge, exploring the world of Candystripe spiders is a treat for any nature enthusiast or budding arachnologist.

Candystripe Spider Basics

Physical Description

The Candystripe Spider (Enoplognatha ovata) is a common spider belonging to the arthropod phylum and the Arachnid class.

This spider is also known as the Candy-striped Spider or Striped Spider due to its distinctive appearance.

Size

Candystripe Spiders are relatively small, with body lengths typically ranging from:

  • Female: 5-6 mm
  • Male: 4-5 mm

Color Variations

These spiders exhibit a variety of color patterns, often including the following colors:

  • Red
  • Green
  • White
  • Yellow

Candystripe Spider

Their most recognizable feature is the presence of red stripes on their abdomen. Some key features include:

  • Red stripes on abdomen
  • Color variations on the body
  • Striped pattern resembling candy canes

Comparison Table

Enoplognatha ovata Striped spiders
Colors Red, Green, White, Yellow Red, Green, White, Yellow
Stripes Red stripes on abdomen Stripes on abdomen
Other names Candy-striped Spider
Size Females: 5-6 mm, Males: 4-5 mm Varies
Class Arachnid Arachnid

Taxonomy and Classification

Arachnida Class

The Candystripe Spider belongs to the Arachnida class within the phylum Arthropoda. Arachnida includes various species of spiders, scorpions, and ticks. Some key features of this class are:

  • Possessing eight legs
  • No antennae or wings
  • Two main body segments: cephalothorax and abdomen

Arachnida is further divided into orders, and the Candystripe Spider falls within the Araneae order.

Theridiidae Family

Within the Araneae order, the Candystripe Spider is placed in the Theridiidae family. The Theridiidae family, also known as cobweb spiders or comb-footed spiders, have some distinct characteristics:

  • Characteristic comb-like structure on their hind legs
  • Build irregular, tangled webs
  • Vast majority belong to the Araneomorphae suborder

Let’s compare the families Theridiidae and Araneidae in the table below:

Feature Theridiidae Araneidae
Web type Irregular, tangled Orb-shaped
Comb on legs Yes No
Suborder Araneomorphae Araneomorphae

Enoplognatha Genus

The Candystripe Spider belongs to the Enoplognatha genus. This genus is characterized by their distinct color patterns and shape.

Some members of the Enoplognatha genus exhibit bright, contrasting colors like red, yellow, or orange, which potentially aid in warning predators of their potential unpalatability.

In conclusion, the Candystripe Spider, a remarkable species, is part of the Arachnida class, Theridiidae family, and Enoplognatha genus, each with its unique characteristics and features.

Cobweb Spider

Distribution and Habitat

Geographical Range

The Candystripe Spider is primarily found in North America and Europe.

In the United States, it has been spotted in states such as Virginia, Washington, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin, New York, and California.

The spider’s range also extends to parts of Canada.

Common Habitats

Candystripe Spiders can typically be found in a variety of habitats, including:

  • Open fields
  • Roadside ditches
  • Brambles
  • Shrubs
  • Hedgerows
  • Grassland

These spiders are known to thrive in diverse environments, making them quite adaptable to different regions.

Below is a comparison table of the Candystripe Spider’s preferred habitats in North America and Europe:

Region Preferred Habitats
North America Open fields, roadside ditches, brambles, shrubs
Europe Hedgerows, grassland, shrubs, open fields, roadside ditches

Features of the Candystripe Spider:

  • Striking, colorful appearance
  • Adaptability to various habitats
  • Predominantly found in North America and Europe

Characteristics of the Candystripe Spider:

  • Web-spinning species
  • Generally non-aggressive
  • Harmless to humans

File:Enoplognatha ovata. Female. Theridiidae - Flickr - gailhampshire.jpg

Source: gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.KCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Candystripe Spiders

Physical Features

Candystripe spiders have distinct features. These include:

  • A slender abdomen with dorsolateral stripes
  • Long, thin legs showing contrasting colors
  • A flat, oval-shaped carapace (head) with prominent lateral margins
  • Two enlarged chelicerae (fangs) visible

The spider’s pattern and coloration can vary, making it a polymorphous species. To identify specific markings, use a microscope or a magnifying lens.

Similar Species

Comparing the Candystripe spider to related species can aid in identification.

Species Web Abdomen Legs Distinguishing Feature
Candystripe Spider Orb web Slender with stripes Long and thin Dorsolateral stripes on the abdomen
Orb Weaver Spider Orb web Rounded Long, spiny Unique, intricate web patterns
Crab Spider No web Flattened Short, thick Ambush predators, resembling crabs

Behavior and Ecology

Web Construction

Candystripe spiders (Enoplognatha ovata) are known for their unique and distinctive web construction. These spiders spin delicate cobwebs instead of the classic orb webs that many other spiders create.

Their webs typically have a dense, irregular pattern that helps them efficiently trap various types of insects.

Prey and Feeding Habits

Candystripe spiders are quite versatile in terms of their diet. Their prey consists mainly of various small insects, including:

  • Aphids
  • Flies
  • Mosquitoes

These spiders employ a strategic approach to feeding. They patiently wait for their prey to get entangled in the web, then quickly immobilize it with their venom.

File:Common Candy-striped Spider (Enoplognatha ovata) - Guelph, Ontario.jpg

Source: Ryan HodnettCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In comparison to other spiders, candystripe spiders exhibit unique behavior and ecology

Feature Candystripe Spider Other Spiders
Web type Cobweb Orb web
Web pattern Dense, irregular Radial, circular
Prey size Small insects Varies depending on the species

Overall, candystripe spiders have distinct behaviors that set them apart from other spider species.

With their specialized web construction and feeding habits, they’re well-adapted to capturing a wide variety of insect prey.

Interaction with Humans

Venom Effects

Candystripe spider venom is generally not considered dangerous to humans. Symptoms may include:

  • Mild pain at the bite site
  • Redness and swelling

However, individual reactions can vary, and some people might experience more severe symptoms. It is important to seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or if a person is allergic to spider bites.

Comparison with Black Widow Spiders

Candystripe spiders and black widow spiders can be easily distinguished through their appearance and the severity of their venom effects:

Candystripe Spider Black Widow Spider
Appearance Stripes of varying colors Shiny black body with red hourglass mark
Venom Potency Mild; not considered dangerous to humans High; can cause severe systemic effects

Overall, Candystripe spiders pose minimal threat to humans, unlike black widow spiders, which have much more potent venom. It’s essential to know the difference between the two to react appropriately in case of a bite.

Candy Stripe Spider – Enogplognatha ovata, Mabel Lake Provincial Park, Lumby, British Columbia

Source: Flickr, Username: Copyright: CC BY-SA 2.0

Candystripe Spider Forms

Candystripe Spiders are a type of polymorphic spider, which means they have different forms or morphs.

All Candystripe Spider forms belong to the family Theridiidae, but their appearance and adaptations vary.

Here are the forms they can take.

Form Lineata

Candystripe Spider’s Form Lineata is a variant with a characteristic striped pattern on its abdomen. It is commonly found on plants where it can camouflage itself.

Form Ovata

Form Ovata shows a more oval-shaped abdomen and varying color patterns. This morph allows the spider to adjust to different environments with ease.

Redimita Form

The Redimita Form of the Candystripe Spider displays a unique color pattern, with red markings on its body. This form is often found in habitats with red foliage.

Enoplognatha Latimana

Enoplognatha Latimana is another morph of the Candystripe Spider belonging to the family Theridiidae. It shares similar characteristics with other forms but is a separate species.

Feature Form Lineata Form Ovata Redimita Form Enoplognatha Latimana
Abdomen Shape Striped Oval Varies Varies
Color Pattern Stripes Diverse Red markings Varies
Family Theridiidae Theridiidae Theridiidae Theridiidae
Habitat Adaptation Plants Varies Red foliage Varies

Ecological Importance

Ecological Role of Candystripe Spiders

Candystripe Spiders (Enoplognatha ovata) play a significant and multifaceted role in the ecosystems they inhabit.

Their presence is integral to maintaining ecological balance and biodiversity, and they contribute to several key ecological processes:

1. Predation and Pest Control:

Candystripe Spiders are voracious predators, primarily feeding on a variety of small insects such as aphids, flies, and mosquitoes.

By controlling the population of these insects, they help maintain a balance in the ecosystem and act as a natural form of pest control, particularly beneficial in gardens and agricultural fields.

2. Prey for Other Species:

While they are predators, Candystripe Spiders also serve as prey for a range of animals, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and other larger spiders.

Their presence in the food web supports the survival and health of these species, contributing to overall biodiversity.

3. Pollination Assistance:

Though not primary pollinators, Candystripe Spiders indirectly aid in the pollination process.

The spiders consume pests that are detrimental to flowering plants, thus fostering healthier plant growth and facilitating the work of pollinators like bees and butterflies.

4. Nutrient Cycling:

Candystripe Spiders contribute to nutrient cycling in the environment.

The breakdown of their webs, fecal matter, and bodies upon death releases essential nutrients back into the soil, enriching it and promoting plant growth.

5. Bioindicators of Environmental Health:

Spiders, including the Candystripe variety, are often used as bioindicators to assess the health of ecosystems.

Their sensitivity to environmental changes makes them valuable for monitoring pollution levels, habitat destruction, and the effects of climate change.

6. Biological Research and Education:

The study of Candystripe Spiders provides insights into spider biology, behavior, and ecology.

They serve as subjects for scientific research, contributing to our understanding of arachnid species and enriching educational materials.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Candystripe Spider can be a beneficial addition to your garden due to its pest control abilities.

However, it is essential to consider your comfort level with spiders and consult with experts when needed.

The information provided here is meant to be educational and informative and should be used responsibly.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about candystripe spiders. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Candystripe Spider from Ireland

Enoplognatha ovata?Not a lot of brightly coloured spiders in Ireland so…                    July 12, 2009
Love love love love the site. I live in a rural area of Ireland and have not come across too many pretty, brightly coloured spiders here so it was a nice surprise to see this girl moving into our bathroom a few days ago.

She was making it very difficult for us to get a pic of her so that we could get a closer look and search for an ID. But the other day as I got out of the shower she was out and about without a care in the world. So in a bath towel and up a ladder

I took as many pics as I could and only one seemed fit to show to anyone – I stopped after snapping over 20 as it was all becoming a bit ‘Carry on…’ plus I didn’t want to slip and be found and have to explain what I was doing!

After trawling the internet and books I think she is Enoplognatha ovata but not 100% and I have definitley never seen anything like her before.
She seems to be taking up residence along with several other house spiders who share our bathroom and she just stands out so well against the white tiles we can’t help but check to see if she is still there everytime someone goes in.

Keep up the great work – I teach animal care/science students animal behaviour and we spend lots of time discussing evolution and biodiversity so I like to hammer home the importance of ‘creepy crawlies’ so your site is one of the top links I recommend they visit to develop an appreciation for such essential organisms. Cheers!
Anne Rogers, Meath, Ireland
Ballivor, County Meath, Ireland, Europe

Candystripe Spider
Candystripe Spider

Hi Anne,
Thanks for your complimentary letter.  We believe you have properly identified Enoplognatha ovata, and our research turned up the colorful common name Candystripe Spider on the Eurospiders Website.  It is a Cobweb Spider in the family Theridiidae.

Letter 2 – Candystripe Spider from England

Spider Identification request.
July 12, 2009
I came across this spider, it probably is a common spider in England however I’ve never come across this kind before. The legs and main body part were transparent while the sack was white with the bright red.
it’s size was the same of that of a finger nail.
Season : Summer
Possibly nothing special but would be nice to know. pictures aren’t great so apologies there.
M.D
England

Candystripe Spider
Candystripe Spider

Dear M.D.,
Just yesterday we posted a photo from Ireland of a Candystripe Spider,
Enoplognatha ovata.  It is also represented on BugGuide, and we are uncertain if it has a global distribution naturally, or if it has been introduced accidentally.

Letter 3 – Candystripe Spider from the UK

Subject: strange spider
Location: United Kingdom, midlands
October 13, 2013 1:03 am
Hi, I found this spider living on my brussel plants in july/August never seen one like this before, can you tell me what it is
Signature: automatically

Cobweb Spider
Candystripe Spider

Dear automatically,
We have identified your Cobweb Spider in the family Theridiidae as
Enoplognatha ovata.  You can find some nice matching images of this variably colored spider on Nick’s Spiders of Britain and Europe.  You can view some of the color variations on BugGuide.  According to Eurospiders, it is commonly called the Candystripe Spider.

Thanks for your help, this is a great service will reccomend to others

Authors

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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5 thoughts on “Candystripe Spider: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell”

  1. I was working in a garden today, and i must have stumbled across a nest. One area i was working in had hundreds of them. It was quite creepy lol.

    Reply

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