Help! What’s this bug?
I’ve searched the spider section of your website to identify this spider that I came face to thorax with this afternoon. She (or he) has made a comfortably large web among the christmas lights hung on our palm tree. We live in South Florida only about 30 feet from a giant nature preserve, so bugs & critters are not uncommon, but this guys made the hair on my neck stand up and I’ll admit I screamed! I watched her for a while and witnessed her having a few meals… I did consider (kindly) making her move elsewhere because I have toddler who likes playing in our yard by that tree. Can you tell me more about this spider? My guess is that it’s a Nephila Claripes as you identified for someone else. What I really want to know is if this is a harmless spider or one of the more aggressive variety. We’ll have to get pretty close to her in only a few weeks when we take our lights down! Thanks in advance for your help!
Brook, Delray Beach FL

Hi Brook
Congratulations on properly identifying your Golden Silk Spider, Nephila clavipes. This is not an aggressive species, but many spiders are capable of biting people if they are provoked. The venom is not considered dangerous. We do not believe your spider poses any significant threat and she will rarely, if ever, stray from her web. By the way, one of the distinguishing differences between spiders and insects, in addition to spiders having 8 legs and insects having 6, is that the head and thorax of the spider is fused into the cephalothorax, while the head and thorax of insects are distinct.

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