How Long Do Orb Weavers Live: Fascinating Lifespan Facts

Orb weaver spiders are a fascinating group of arachnids known for their intricate, wheel-shaped webs. These spiders are often found in gardens, fields, and forests, with their population increasing in spring and more noticeable during the fall as they and their webs grow larger.

The lifespan of an orb weaver spider can vary depending on the species. For example, the furrow orbweaver can live up to two years, with some individuals even surviving through freezing winter temperatures. In contrast, other orb weavers might have a shorter lifespan, as many spiders tend to die out when the cold season arrives.

Interestingly, orb weavers are known for their diversity in size and appearance, with abdomen shapes ranging from smooth to spiny or irregular. They are common near exterior lighting and play a crucial role in controlling insect populations. Overall, these captivating spiders showcase the incredibly diverse and resilient nature of the arachnid world.

Orb Weaver Spider Basics

Species and Identification

Orb weaver spiders belong to the family Araneidae, which consists of numerous species. Some common examples include the marbled orbweaver, basilica orbweaver, and the orchard orbweaver. Accurate identification depends on observing unique markings such as:

Physical Characteristics

Table: Comparison of Some Physical Characteristics

Characteristic Marbled Orbweaver Basilica Orbweaver Orchard Orbweaver
Adult Size 9 to 20 mm ~ 12 mm 5 to 9 mm
Body Color Orange Brown Green or Yellow
Markings Brown to purple White wavy lines Silver-white

All orb weavers have eight legs, but leg sizes can vary among species. For example, black and yellow orb weavers have a third pair of legs approximately half as long as the others.

Orb weavers are non-aggressive spiders and are not dangerous to humans. They typically reside in tall grass, forests, and other natural habitats throughout North America.

Range and Distribution

Orb weaver spiders are widespread throughout the United States, Canada, and Alaska. They can be commonly found in natural habitats like forests, tall grass, and even around buildings, particularly during late summer and early fall. These spiders play a vital role as predators in their ecosystems, helping to control the populations of various insects.

Habitat and Behavior

Webs and Web Building

Orb weavers are known for their impressive and intricate webs. Found in various habitats like gardens, forests, and even the eaves of buildings, these spiders use their silk to create beautiful and functional webs. Some common web types include:

  • Trashline Orbweavers: These spiders create webs with trashlines that appear like bird droppings to deter predators.
  • Long-Jawed Orb Weavers: These spiders tend to leave openings in the center of their horizontally inclined webs.

Diet and Prey

Orb weaver spiders primarily consume insects that get trapped in their webs. Some examples of their prey include:

  • Moths
  • Beetles
  • Frogs

These spiders can be considered beneficial to gardens because they help control the population of harmful insects.

Predators and Threats

Orb-weaver spiders face various predators and threats in nature. Some of the known predators include:

  • Birds
  • Hummingbirds
  • Frogs

These spiders are not considered dangerous to humans; however, caution should be taken around pets and children as they might disturb the spider’s habitat.

Comparison Table

Feature Trashline Orbweaver Long-Jawed Orb Weaver
Web Appearance Trashlines Opening in the center
Web Orientation Vertical Horizontal
Common Habitats Gardens, wooded areas Near water, forests
Contribution to Gardens Beneficial in controlling pest insects Beneficial in controlling pest insects

Orb-weaver spiders are fascinating arachnids that contribute positively to various habitats by controlling harmful insect populations. With their diverse web-building techniques, they make the world of spiders all the more captivating.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Mating and Fertility

Orb weavers have a unique mating process. Males do not create webs but use pheromones to locate a female mate. When a male finds a fertile female, he has to approach her carefully, as she may cannibalize him. It’s common for males to be eaten by females after mating, especially in the Mesozygiella dunlopi species.

Eggs and Spiderlings

Female orb weavers lay their eggs in protective sacs and guard them until they hatch. Eggs usually hatch in spring, with spiderlings staying inside their cocoon for a few more weeks before venturing out. Key events in the orb weaver’s life cycle are:

  • Mating and laying of eggs
  • Development and hatching of spiderlings
  • Dispersal and growth of spiderlings
  • Maturity and mating in adulthood

Lifecycle Duration

Orb weavers have varying lifespan depending on the species. Most spiders die in freezing temperatures, but some, like the furrow orbweavers, survive winter and can live up to two years. Orb weavers typically become more noticeable in fall as they and their webs grow in size.

Orb Weaver Feature Description
Reproduction Males use pheromones to locate a mate; females may cannibalize the males after mating
Eggs Laid in protective sacs; female guards them until they hatch
Spiderlings Hatch in spring; stay in cocoon for several weeks before dispersing
Lifespan Varies by species; some orb weavers can live up to two years

Orb Weavers as Pets

Pet Care and Housing

Orb weavers can be interesting pets, particularly for those fascinated by spiders. They are known for their impressive body and abdomen size, and attractive legs. For example, the banded garden spider and Araneus diadematus are popular choices. When keeping an orb weaver as a pet, it’s essential to take care of their housing and surroundings:

  • Location: Usually found in Central America, grasslands, woodlands, suburbs, and cities, these spiders prefer manmade structures for their webs.
  • Terrarium size: Provide a small to medium-sized terrarium or enclosure with enough room for the spider to spin a web.
  • Ambient temperature: Orb weavers thrive in a range of temperatures, but maintaining 65-85°F is optimal.
  • Substrate: A layer of substrate, like coconut fiber or moss, can retain moisture and help maintain humidity.

Potential Risks and Concerns

As with any pet, there are certain risks and concerns when keeping orb weavers:

  • Venom: Although their venom is typically not dangerous to humans, a bite can cause irritation or discomfort.
  • Diet: Orb weavers prey on flying insects, which means you need to supply them with live food like flies or moths.

Here’s a comparison table of the key features for two popular orb weaver species:

Features Banded Garden Spider Araneus Diadematus
Size Body length: 0.3 to 1 inch Body length: 0.3 to 0.8 inch
Color Black and yellow bands Variable with white or yellow markings
Web type Classic orb Classic orb
Native habitat North and Central America Europe, North America

By considering these points, you can ensure that your orb weaver pet has a comfortable and healthy living environment.

Venom and Danger to Humans

Venom Toxicity

Orb weaver spiders are mostly harmless to humans. Their venom is not considered highly toxic, and their bites are usually not severe. The venom of some orb weavers, like long-jawed orb-weaving spiders, consists of proteins belonging to novel gene families.

Bite Symptoms and Treatment

If an orb weaver does bite someone, the symptoms usually involve mild pain, itching, and swelling. Treatments usually include:

  • Cleaning the bite area with soap and water
  • Applying ice or a cold compress
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers or antihistamines

These simple treatments help alleviate discomfort and prevent infection.

A comparison of orb weaver venom to more harmful spider venom:

Spider type Venom toxicity Danger to humans
Orb weaver Low Minimal
Black widow High Severe
Brown recluse High Severe

Orb weaver spiders are not known to use their venom for malicious purposes, and their bites are an infrequent occurrence. They use their spinnerets to produce silk for creating their elaborate webs to catch prey.

In summary, orb weaver spiders are not a significant threat to humans, and their venom is not highly toxic. The bite symptoms are mild, and treatments are simple and effective. These spiders are more beneficial to our ecosystem than they are dangerous to us.

Ecological Importance and Conservation

Role in Ecosystem

Orb weavers, belonging to the Araneidae family, play a vital role in controlling insect populations. Their sticky silk webs allow them to capture various small insects, thus keeping the numbers in check.

  • Eating: Orb weavers generally feed on pests, such as mosquitoes and flies.
  • Predators: These spiders also serve as a food source for birds, reptiles, and other insectivorous creatures.

Conservation Efforts

Orb weavers like the spiny orb weaver have unique adaptations that contribute to their survival and conservation. They can live for one to two years in the wild, which is relatively long for a spider. Conservation efforts should focus on preserving their habitats and minimizing the use of pesticides.

Comparison of two orb weaver species

Feature Spiny Orb Weaver Basilica Orbweaver
Size Small (up to 5mm) Medium (about 12mm)
Web Classic orb web Dome-shaped web part
Habitat Shrubs and low trees Forest edges and wetlands

In summary, orb weavers have a significant ecological role and require appropriate conservation measures to protect their populations and habitats.

Reader Emails

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

Letter 1 – Orchard Orbweaver

 

Type of Florida Spider
July 28, 2009
Please help me identify this spider.
Many Thanks,
Magnus
Satellite Beach, FL

Orchard Orbweaver
Orchard Orbweaver

Dear Magnus,
The Orchard Orbweaver, Leucauge venusta, is a common spider in the Southeast.  According to BugGuide its habitat is :  “Woodlands. Builds in low shrubs or small trees, close to the ground
and it can be identified by the “Slightly elongated abdomen marked with silver, yellow, black, green, and bright orange or pink spots. Spins its web at an angle and hangs in the center.

Letter 2 – Orbweaver: Hypsosinga pygmaea

 

Subject: Hypsosinga pygmaea??
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
October 26, 2015 11:17 am
Hi! I have found two of these spiders in my house in the past month. From what I’ve searched on the internet it looks like it’s a hypsosinga pygmaea. Can you please validate that for me?? And I can’t seem to find if they are venomous or not. Thank you in advance.
Signature: im not sure what this is asking?

Orbweaver:  Hypsosinga pygmaea
Orbweaver: Hypsosinga pygmaea

Congratulations on what we believe is a correct identification of a new species for our site, and we know how difficult some identifications can be.  We are basing our agreement with your identification on images posted to BugGuide, and though BugGuide has no specific information on the species we can generalize based on family information.  Most all spiders are venomous, but very few have either powerful enough venom to do damage to a human or strong enough mandibles to be able to bite a human.  Most spider bites will result in little more than local swelling and tenderness, so they are not a threat to humans.  Members of the family Araneidae, according to BugGuide, called:  “Orb weavers are very docile, non-aggressive spiders that will flee at the first sign of a threat (typically they will run or drop off the web). They are not dangerous to people & pets, and are actually quite beneficial because they will catch and eat a lot of pest-type insects. ”

Letter 3 – Orbweavers from Hawaii

 

Argipoe appensas mating activity
Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 12:01 AM
I got this shot of a male Argipoe appensas? after it spent some time on the web of a female. I did not get a shot of the actual mating. I’m not sure it occurred. However, I wonder if the small appendage and organ to the left of his head are sex organs and/or sperm packets?
gregp25
Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii

Pair of Orbweavers
Orbweavers

Dear gregp25,
Thanks for sending us a photo of a pair of Argiope appensa preparing to mate. The much smaller male will spend considerable time in the web of the female until he has an opportunity to mate. In speaking about a related species, Argiope aurantia, BugGuide mentions the palps on the male spider being reproductive organs. The Biodiversity Explorer website discusses the copulatory organs of spiders thus: “The copulatory organs of the Araneomorpha, or true spiders, have entelegyne features. The male palps are enlarged distally (at the ends) due to a complex copulatory organs or genital bulbs that resemble boxing gloves. Some tiny male spiders have ridiculously large palps relative to their body size. The male and female genital organs are very specific and function on a “lock and key” principle. These organs are used to identify spiders to species level. The female genitalia, the epigyne, is situated ventrally (underside) between the booklung slits on the epigastric furrow. The epigyne is a black, shiny, chitinous, oval to round plate with two openings. “

Male Orbweaver
Orbweaver

Correction: Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 8:13 AM
Aloha Daniel –
Regarding the post on Sunday:
A pair of Orbweavers from Hawaii
Argipoe appensas mating activity
Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 12:01 AM
The photo from Kaua`i appears to have an adult female and a sub-adult female. Also, the writer is confusing the stabilimentum with something to do with reproduction.
The observations I’ve made of the males on Maui are that they have very little of the same markings on their back as the female. They are also seriously small compared to the females. Most people totally miss the boys hanging out on the other side of the web because of their X shape and the general size of these girls.
Also, regarding the first image – the male would need to be on the other side of the web. It is the best place for them to sip on the meal provided by the female. But who knows what they do when I’m not looking at them? Ha!
The link you have to BugGuide – for the Argiope Aurantia – the male is really large compared to what I have seen here on Maui for the Appensas. Of course, with the way animals can adapt to their environments, Kaua`i appensas and Maui ones could be different!
Right now, due to the wet and seriously windy weather in Ha`iku, our Appensas are hiding in their appropriate safe zones so I can’t send you an image of a pair here. I will make sure you get an image when I can. Also will include an image of egg sacks, which look rather like a wrapped-up used food source.
These images are from lower Kula on Maui – 30 July 2005. I had a house with an outdoor shower and these girls shared bug reducing duties for me.
Mahalo – Thanks – for all the enjoyment your efforts bring to the world.
Eliza B

Argiope appensa
Argiope appensa

Thanks for correcting our error Eliza.

Letter 4 – Orbweaver: Araneus cingulatus

 

Green Spider, Red and White Patterned Back
September 25, 2009
Hi there! Found this beauty on my porch in July 2009 in Southern NJ. Haven’t seen him before or since. Pattern is really cool, haven’t been able to find anything about him here or online.
MYP in NJ
Southern NJ

Araneus cingulatus
Araneus cingulatus

Dear MYP,
It is quite unfortunate that this lovely green Orbweaver, Araneus cingulatus, does not have a common name.  You can see additional images on BugGuide.

Letter 5 – Orbweaver: Eriophora ravilla

 

arachnid identification
Location: Sunrise, FL (South Florida)
March 16, 2012 5:31 pm
Hello! Thank you for taking the time to look over my submission.
I found this guy after a pretty bad rainstorm. It had apparently setup its web from a tree branch to the top of a low bush.
This is the first time I’ve seen this spider like this; I’m pretty well acquainted with the spiders of South Florida as I have a crippling arachnophobia. It was about 1.5” to 2” long, and there was nothing unusual or ornate about the web that would suggest it was a weaver. I could not see any insects caught on its web, and didn’t have the opportunity to observe it over time as landscapers came and ”relocated” it.
I’d be happy to answer any questions I might not have thought of, though I didn’t gather much info I’ll try to help. Thank you!
Signature: Gonzalo

Orbweaver: Eriophora ravilla

Dear Gonzalo,
We quickly identified your Orbweaver as
Eriophora ravilla on BugGuide.  Large Orbweavers may bite if carelessly handled, but they are not aggressive.  They are actually often quite clumsy when not in their webs.  According to BugGuide “These spiders spin their webs, which can be many feet wide, in the evening. At night they sit in the web. By day, they will usually hide in a rolled-up leaf somewhere near the edge of the web.”

Not sure if it’s okay to reply to this email, but here goes…
Thank you for your quick response. I’ve been examining the photos I’ve taken closely and had the idea it was an orb-weaver in the back of my mind. I guess I think of adorning their webs with the zig-zags as a definite characteristic of orb weavers. Also, golden orb-weavers are such a common sight in my area, I guess it didn’t cross my mind there would be differing species in the neighborhood.
It’s funny, I was just discussing the behavior of this spider and its disappearance and reappearance. I just recently made the observation that it was going somewhere in the daytime, as I noticed the web was untouched by the landscapers but the spider was still missing.
Not sure if it’s necessary at this point, but I took another picture just now… this time of its underside. Anyways, your answer was absolutely accurate and thanks again for the quick turnaround.
-Gonzalo

Orbweaver

Letter 6 – Possibly Giant Lichen Orbweaver

 

Subject:  Orb Weaver
Geographic location of the bug:  New Jersey
Date: 04/25/2018
Time: 06:17 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
I found this beautiful spider in the center of its round web. It was in a bog in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, in stand of Cedar Trees. Also growing in the area were Pitch Pine, blueberry, lichen, and a variety of wetland plants.
The spider was small, maybe about a 1/4 inch long.  I found it today, April 25th.
These are my own photos.
Thanks very much!
How you want your letter signed:  Shawn McClure

Possibly Giant Lichen Orbweaver

Dear Shawn,
Our best guess is that this is a Giant Lichen Orbweaver, Araneus bicentenarius, which is pictured here on BugGuide and here on BugGuide.  Exact identification might prove difficult because based on the time of year, your location and the size you indicate, this is probably an immature individual that will mature in the fall.  According to BugGuide, the habitat is:  “Woodlands, on trees, among lichens.”

Letter 7 – Orbweaver: Gray Cross Spider

 

Female Wolf Spider???
Location:  Merrimack, NH
August 7, 2010 10:56 pm
I stalked and named this beauty, Ilsa. Honestly, I stalk bugs all the time, but since she stays in the same place, I am kinda attached to her.
These images are of her during a web cleansing. Really was awesome to watch and photograph. She reeled in each strand, fed on the little carcasses and then wadded them up under her, and then cut the line when she finished.
Cynthia Kiernan

Orbweaver: Gray Cross Spider

Hi Cynthia,
This is most definitely not a Wolf Spider.  She is an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae.  Orbweavers rarely leave their webs and they can be quite clumsy when they are forced to, despite the grace they have while negotiating the strands of their own webs.  You may read more about the family on BugGuide and compare “Ilsa” to the photos posted there.  Sadly, we do not feel competent to identify Lisa to the species level, though we suspect her genus is
Araneus.  Your observations of “Ilsa’s” feeding habits is quite interesting.

Orbweaver: Gray Cross Spider

Daniel…ilsa, not Lisa 🙂  and for the info, Thanks!!!

Ed. Note:
Correction made.

Species Identification courtesy of Eric Eaton
August 11, 2010
Hi, Daniel:
Went through the site and found only a few minor corrections/clarifications, most recent to oldest: …
… Orb Weaver from Merrinack, New Hampshire:  Larinioides sclopetarius (“Gray CrossSpider”)…
…Is the book out for everybody yet?  If so, I’ll link it to my blog, share on Facebook, etc.  I did get the pre-order e-mail from you.
Eric

Thanks Eric,
We can now link to the BugGuide
information page on the Gray Cross Spider.  The book will be available in October 2010.

Letter 8 – Orbweaver: Eriophora ravilla

 

Half dollar size hairy spider
Location: Orlando FL
March 22, 2012 9:43 pm
I’ve seen these spiders at my house before. They are really hard to photograph becuause they only come out at night and they build large webs high in the air. This year there are two of them within 5 feet of each other. They have been building their webs every night for the last week or so. By morning the webs are gone and so are the spiders. The bodies are about the size of a nickle and with the legs at a normal distance they are about the size of a half dollar. The legs could sprea out to about 4 or 5 inches I would Imagine.
They have been building their web between my house and my neighbors house it’s about 15-20 feet. Here are some pics and a video.
These beautys are little bigger than a half dollar the body is about the size of a nickel They only come out at night and their webs are gone by morning.  There are two of them within 5 feet of each other.  One was eating and one was building her web.
These beautys are little bigger than a half dollar the body is about the size of a nickel They only come out at night and their webs are gone by morning.  There are two of them within 5 feet of each other.  One was eating and one was building her web.
These beautys are little bigger than a half dollar the body is about the size of a nickel They only come out at night and their webs are gone by morning.  There are two of them within 5 feet of each other.  One was eating and one was building her web.
These beautys are little bigger than a half dollar the body is about the size of a nickel They only come out at night and their webs are gone by morning.  There are two of them within 5 feet of each other.  One was eating and one was building her web.
These beautys are little bigger than a half dollar the body is about the size of a nickel They only come out at night and their webs are gone by morning.  There are two of them within 5 feet of each other.  One was eating and one was building her web.

What are they?
Signature: Matt Batt

Orbweaver: Eriophora ravilla

Dear Matt,
This beauty is an Orbweaver Spider, and the species is
Eriophora ravilla.  Just last week we posted another image, also from Florida.

Letter 9 – Orbweaver may be Cat-Faced Spider

 

Subject: Grey Lumpy Spider
Location: Northern California
May 9, 2015 9:22 am
I’m a bit of an amateur arachnologist, and as such a lot of my friends text me pics for identification regularly. I usually can get them at least a Genus within moments, but a friend of a friend sent me a pic that has me a little stumped. It’s a female grey spider, no web visible, with some interesting protrusions on her back. I tried to do some research, but I keep coming up with blanks. What is she? I’d love to know! She was found in Northern California, we live in San Francisco and I believe her friend found the little lady in the east bay.
Signature: Luke

Possibly Cat-Faced Spider
Possibly Cat-Faced Spider

Dear Luke,
This is an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae, and we believe it might be a Cat-Faced Spider,
Araneus gemmoides.  You can see the resemblance to this individual posted to BugGuide.

Letter 10 – Orbweaver, possibly Araneus gemma

 

ubject: What kind of spider is this?
Location: La Marque
February 18, 2013 5:44 pm
Found this spider outside on my car. Although the picture sort of makes it look brown. In person it actually looks orange in color.I was wondering what kind of spider it is.
Signature: Thanks in advance, Txfinest

Orbweaver: Araneus gemma

Hi Txfinest,
This is one of the Orbweavers in the genus Araneus.  It fits the description of Araneus gemma which BugGuide describes as:  “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.”  
BugGuide lists the range as:  “Along the West coast of North America from southern Alaska to southern California and inland to western Montana” but that might not be entirely accurate.

Letter 11 – Orbweaver, possibly Shamrock Orbweaver

 

Spider in Adirondacks
Hello, While camping in Saranac Lake, NY in August 2005, I was sitting around the camp fire with friends when this spider ended up on my shoulder somehow. I quickly shooed it into a cup and snapped a quick picture before dropping it back off in the woods. We always wondered what kind of spider it was and why its abdomen area was so large. Hopefully the cup should give you a reference to its sizeThanks
James
Lake Saranac, NY

Shamrock Orbweaver
Shamrock Orbweaver

Hi James,
In the autumn, from all over the country, we receive requests for Orbweaver Spider identifications. Those requests just might outnumber all others at this time of year. The main reason is that the female Orbweaver Spiders have attained adult size and become quite noticeable. Often the gorgeous orb webs are in strategic locations. We have three healthy females stretching webs nightly in close proximity to our porch light. Each night they spin a new web and wait for the insects that are attracted to the light, and the spiders have grown quite fat due to the good trapping. When the Orbweaver is in the genus Argiope, we can, with a degree of certainty, provide a species name, but when the Orbweaver is in another genus like Araneus or Neoscona, this is often quite difficult for us. There is much similarity between species, and much variation within an individual species. We believe this is Araneus trifolium, sometimes called the Shamrock Orbweaver. Glancing at the photos posted to BugGuide for this species should provide some idea of the individual variation.

Daniel:
I’m fairly certain that the “shamrock orb weaver” posted recently is actually a color phase of the “marbled orb weaver,” Araneus marmoreus.  They are very closely allied to the shamrock spider (A. trifolium), so it is easy to get confused!
Eric

Letter 12 – Orbweaver Spiderlings

 

Baby Spiders
Location: East Bay Area, California
April 17, 2011 9:51 pm
I work in a preschool in Northern California and found these all over one of our play structures a couple weeks ago. We have all kinds of spiders, not all of them nice…can you tell me what these are?
Signature: R. Allen

Orbweaver Spiderlings

Dear R. Allen,
We believe these are Orbweaver Spiderlings.  Orbweavers are magnificent spiders and they are not considered dangerous.  Your photo will not post live until later in the week because we are postdating it along with several other postings in consideration of our brief holiday.

Thank you so much!  Sigh of relief 🙂

Letter 13 – Orbweaver Spiderlings

 

yellow cluster
Location: stewrtstown PA
May 21, 2011 1:58 pm
Hi. I was wondering what this yellow mass was. Found it hanging off a shasta daisy leaf in my perennial garden. Seems to be almost suspended with very faint spider webs surrounding it, not really growing ON anything. Maybe 1-2 inches long. Wasn’t sure if it was an insect egg mass or a slime mold–it’s been a very wet 2 weeks.
Signature: lt

Orbweaver Spiderlings

Dear It,
We believe these are newly hatched Orbweaver Spider spiderlings.  They should soon disperse by releasing a strand of silk and catching a breeze, a technique known as ballooning.

Well thank you so much Daniel Marlos. I hope that’s what they are. I will watch closely.  PS “Spiderlings” is a great word.
Thnx again
Lauren

Letter 14 – Orbweaver Spiderlings

 

Location: Parksville, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
November 27, 2011
Hi Bugman!
Thanks for your quick reply. It pleases me greatly that I was able to provide something new to your site.
I’m attaching 3 more pictures: the first is a full profile shot of the damselfly (hopefully, it might help with the identification); the second one is a close up of a cluster of spiderlings, probably of Argiope aurantia? The final one is of a jumping spider. Not technically bugs (or even insects!), but I thought I might send it in. All pictures were taken the same place as the skipper, along a rocky beach.
By the way, regarding the proposed case bearing moths, it was in Hong Kong that they were found (my friend took those original photos).
Geoff

Orbweaver Spiderlings

Hi Geoff,
We are very happy to post your image of Orbweaver Spiderlings.  We agree that they look like immature Golden Orbweavers,
Argiope aurantia, because they match this image on BugGuide.

Letter 15 – Orbweaver Spiderlings

 

Subject:  Spiders
Geographic location of the bug:  Sunnyside, Utah
Date: 02/15/2018
Time: 11:28 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I have been a fan of your page for many years. Whenever I seen and interesting bug I come here to investigate it. I have collected some bug photos that I just wanted to share.
How you want your letter signed:  Janice Leavitt

Orbweaver Spiderlings

Dear Janice,
Thank you for your kind words.  We really love your image of hatchling Orbweavers that have not yet dispersed.  We will do a separate posting of the Centipede you submitted.

Letter 16 – Orbweaver Spiderlings

 

Subject:  Pile of spiders! What kind?
Geographic location of the bug:  Mill Valley, CA, Marin County, right outside San  Francisco, Northern CA
Date: 04/27/2018
Time: 03:45 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
I was out on my deck and I saw this in a spider web. My husband decided to hit it with our bug zapper and TONS of baby spiders scattered everywhere. It freaked me out. I’ve never seen a nest like this before! From a distance it looked like a piece of a plant or tree.
First two pictures arr of them huddled together and second picture is of them scattering.
Sincerely,
How you want your letter signed:  Alison

Orbweaver Spiderlings

Dear Alison,
These are harmless Orbweaver spiderlings, and they are probably very recently hatched.  Young Orbweavers frequently disperse by ballooning away on the wind:  spinning a silk thread that catches the wind and transports the individual spiderlings great distances from where they hatched.

Obweaver Spiderlings Disperse

Letter 17 – Orbweaver traps Stink Bug in Brazil

 

Spider in Northeastern Brazil
Location: Northeastern Brazil
July 19, 2011 12:34 am
Hello, I have another little specimen from Brazil that I’d like to know about. I saw these little dudes every once in a while in a web that they make in between plants or branches. At first, they appear to have 4 legs but if you look closely they group their legs together in four groups of two. They sit in the middle of the web during the day and night and are VERY FAST when a bug lands in their web. I would pick up ants and throw them in and watch the spiders do their work, which was quite entertaining. One house that I lived in had around 20 of these in the back yard. I don’t know the Brazilian name for this one though. I googled pictures of spiders in Northeastern Brazil until I found the spider I was looking for. Here it is 🙂 Thanks a lot!
Signature: Jay21310

Orbweaver traps Stink Bug

Hi Jay21310,
This spider is an Orbweaver in the genus
Argiope, and it appears to have trapped a Stink Bug.

Thank you so much for the identification. After I received your reply I studied a bit more about the genus and also found out that they are harmless to humans unless molested, and if bitten, the venom is very weak. I always thought otherwise because of the brightly colored abdomen! I also found out that the venom contains Argiotoxin (ArgTX-636) is often gathered for therapeutic reasons. What an amazing species!

Letter 18 – Orbweaver Web

 

Spider web full of color
July 18, 2009
Hi I live in  Oregon, and  by Crater Lake I saw this beautiful spider web. have you ever seen one like this?. I wonder what kind of spider made this?  If you have time please let me know. thanks so much
Laurie Hayden-quinn
Azalea  Oregon

Orbweaver Web
Orbweaver Web catches the light

Hi Laurie,
Your Spider Web photo is quite beautiful.  We cannot tell you the species, but this is the web of one of the Orbweavers in the family Araneidae.  The color is probably the illusion created by the silk and moisture acting like a prism when struck by light from the perfect direction.

Spiders on Drugs
November 14, 2009
In doing research for our book that must be completed in sixteen days, we stumbled upon this wonderful website that contains images of spider webs spun while under the influence of various drugs.

Update:  April 22, 2018
While trying to link to the article of Spiders on Drugs, we realized our old links no longer took readers to the original article we cited, but we found it again on Priceonomics.

Letter 19 – Orbweaver Web

 

Back Porch Spider
August 29, 2010
Hi Daniel and Lisa,
This spider has been nothing but tenacious over the last week.  It has taught me to look before I step out onto my back porch.  Three webs in six days were constructed overnight to trip me, to brush my hair, or to keep me from using the back steps!  Here, it lies in wait for breakfast!
Is it simply “an orb-weaving” spider or something more specific?
Thanx for your time,
R.G. Marion
Cosby, TN
Great Smoky Mountains

Orbweaver Web

Dear R.G.,
Thanks so much for sending us your photo of an Orbweaver Spider and its web and providing details of the spider’s nightly activities.  Each year, as summer nears an end and the warm autumn days shorten, we get countless requests to identify Orbweaver Spiders and questions regarding the danger they might cause.  Spiders with orb webs in the family Araneidae (see BugGuide) are not aggressive and they rarely bite.  The bite, in the unlikely event that it occurs, is not serious and will cause minor local swelling and tenderness.  Orbweavers do not pose a threat and they should be left to spin their webs and capture flying insects like flies and mosquitoes.  Your photo illustrates the classic orb web.  We suspect your spider is in the genus Araneus.

Letter 20 – Orbweaver with Prey

 

Gorgeous orange girl
Location:  Leander, Texas (Near Austin)
October 20, 2010 8:24 am
Greetings,
I keep and breed tarantulas, and have a deep appreciation for ”true” spiders. With approximately 860 known species, Theraphosidae are easily identified, however true spiders continue to vex me with their variety. This beautiful girl is ”hanging out” on my deck, located in Leander, TX, about 10 minutes out of Austin. I have never seen anything besides Latrodectus with such a remarkable ventral marking. What is this lovely creature?
Signature:  Tarantula Terri

Orbweaver with Prey

Dear Tarantula Terri,
This lovely creature is an Orbweaver in the genus
Araneus.  In the fall, shortly before Halloween, many spiders have matured and reached their full size.  These impressive creatures, especially the Orbweavers, are suddenly very visible as they spin large orb webs and position themselves in the webs.  They attract considerable attention.  It appears the female in your photo has snared a Yellow Jacket.

Letter 21 – Orbweaver with Spiderlings from Brazil

 

Subject: Spider
Location: Navegantes – SC, Brazil
October 26, 2015 10:02 am
Found at Navegantes, south of brazil, is timid, when i try to approach it, it walks away a little. Is territorialist, i never found any spider next to it, same species, nor other species.
Signature: Julian Silva

Orbweaver with Spiderlings
Orbweaver with Spiderlings

Dear Julian,
This is an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae, and they are a harmless and beneficial family whose members rarely stray far from their orb shaped webs.  If you look closely on the left side of this little lady, you will see what looks like newly hatched spiderlings.  They will soon disperse by ballooning.  Perhaps Cesar Crash who runs our sister site out of Brazil, Insetologia, will be able to provide a species identification.

Correction:  October 27, 2015
Thanks to a comment from Cesar Crash, we now know that this is
Nephilengys cruentata in the Orbweaver family Nephilidae, not Araneidae.  See FlickR and Insectologia for images

Letter 22 – Orchard Orbweaver

 

bright green spider
November 9, 2009
I found this spider hanging out on my front door when my sister came to visit today. I grabbed my camera so I could try to identify it.
Marie
Indiana

Orchard Orbweaver
Orchard Orbweaver

Hi Marie,
Your beautiful spider is an Orchard Orbweaver, Leucauge venusta.  You can find more information on BugGuide.

Letter 23 – Pair of Orbweavers from Argentina

 

Subject: Silver Argiope from Argentina
Location: San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina
February 12, 2014 4:08 pm
Hiya Bugfolk,
I came across this great pair of spiders on a trip to the Argentine wine country. Specifically, Elsa vineyard (certified sustainable) operated by Bianchi Winery, San Rafael, Mendoza.
I found a pic here on What’s That Bug of a silver argiope while that one was more yellow, this spider was clearly more silver/gray. It spanned two rows of grape vines with the main web close to one row and a very high tensile strand spanning over 5 feet.
Hope you like it.
Signature: Brian Erickson

Pair of Silver Orbweavers
Pair of Silver Orbweavers

Hi Brian,
Your photo beautifully illustrates the incredible size discrepancy between the sexes of the Silver Orbweaver,
Argiope argentatua.  The difference between the size of the pair of spiders in your photo appears to be even greater that that of the Golden Silk Spider.

Letter 24 – Pair of St. Andrew’s Cross Spiders from Malaysia

 

Subject: Pretty spider
Location: Malaysia
November 27, 2013 5:54 am
Hello, I’m Nur from Malaysia. Usually the spiders I found are the normal small house spiders. But this one I found recently on my yard is kind of weird. It is colourful and too big compared to the ones I usually found.
Is it poisonous or dangerous in any ways? I’m worried to let my little sisters to play there with that unknown spider around…
Signature: Curious child

Female and Male Orbweaver
Female and Male St Andrew’s Cross Spiders

Dear Curious child,
The large spider in your photos is a female Orbweaver in the genus Argiope, and they are not considered dangerous spiders.  Large specimens might bite and they do have venom, however the bite is not considered dangerous to humans.  There may be a painful local reaction with swelling and tenderness, but there will be no lasting damage in the event a bite occurs.  These spiders remain in their webs and they will not bite unless they are carelessly handled.  If you look closely, you will see a much smaller spider in the web.  This is the male.  There is often a great size discrepancy between female Orbweavers, which can get very large, and their mates, which might be as little as 1/100 the size of the female.  We will try to determine the species later in the day when we have additional time to do the research.

Pair of Orbweavers
Pair of St. Andrew’s Cross Spiders

Update:  November 30, 2013
It has been a slow mail day today, so we had a chance to get back to this posting.  Searching the genus
Argiope in Malaysia, we found a very similar image posted on this Malaysian Spider page, and they are identified as Argiope aemula.  Armed with a name, we then found A Guide to Common Singapore Spiders and the common name St. Andrew’s Cross Spider, however that common name is already shared by a different species of in the same genus that is found in AustraliaThe common name St. Andrew’s Cross Spider refers to the X shaped stabilimentum that is woven into the orb web and which is nicely illustrated in one of your photos.  Dave’s Garden also has a nice photo of your St. Andrew’s Cross Spider.

Letter 25 – Pale colored Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject:  Large Orb – Albino?
Geographic location of the bug:  Boerne, Texas
Date: 09/02/2019
Time: 10:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I have looked through MANY pictures of Orbs, but this critter seems unique. She seems to have the correct pattern for a black and yellow orb, but not the right colors. Can spiders be albino (besides the obvious cave dwellers), thoughts?
How you want your letter signed:  Adam Branch

Pale Golden Orbweaver

Dear Adam,
We don’t know if this is considered a true albino, but we agree it is a Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantiaBugGuide has an image of a similar looking individual that is called a “light color morph” and this BugGuide image is also of a light individual.

Daniel,
Thanks for the reply! Those do look similar, I am always d6o fascinated with the constant variety of nature. Have a great day
Respectfully,
Adam

Letter 26 – Pet Orbweavers need to eat Insects

 

Subject: I Have 3 Pet Spiders and do not Know What to Feed Them
Location: Okanagan Region (Beach)
August 4, 2014 5:06 pm
Hi,
I’m Candace (13) and I have 3 “pet” spiders. I caught them all down in a shack in southern British Columbia. I’m curious to find out what kind of spiders they are and what I should be feeding them. They are all in different terrariums with shells at the bottom and I’m keeping them in my room. When it’s light out, I normally keep them in a luke-warm, dark area. Is that what they normally prefer? Could you please help me identify these spiders? They are very dear to me and I would be quite upset if they were to starve to death.
Thank you for your time.
Signature: -Candace

Long Jawed Orbweaver
Long Jawed Orbweaver

Dear Candace,
All of your spiders are species of Orbweavers, and they spin webs to snare prey.  You can feed them flies or other insects that you capture, or you can go to a pet store and purchase crickets to feed the spiders.  The file numbered 1820 appears to be a Long Jawed Orbweaver,
Tetragnatha versicolorand you can compare your pet to this image on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide, their food is “Primarily insects.”

Orbweaver
Orbweaver

Your other two spiders are Orbweavers in the family Araneidae, but we are uncertain of the species.  According to BugGuide, the “Food sources vary, but typically any small insects they catch in their webs. “

Orbweaver
Orbweaver

Letter 27 – Possibly male Marbled Orbweaver (or Cobweb Weaver or Sheetweb Weaver

 

Spider beauty
Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 4:46 PM
I found this beautiful spider today (June 15th) walking in my garden, across goldenrod, lily leaves, and onto a dead stump. It moved quickly but gracefully. I have been all through my three field guides and Bug Guide, and I can’t find anything close. I live in Newton, New Jersey, up in the northwest corner of the state. Thank you!
Jeannie
Newton, New Jersey

Male Orbweaver, we believe
Male Orbweaver, we believe

Hi Jeannie,
This is a wonderful image. Based on the presence of the well developed pedipalps, the appendages closest to the mouth, we would say that this is a male spider. Male Orbweavers tend to be very reclusive, and they are not often photographed. The considerably larger females often spin large webs in the same location for long periods of time. The females are more sedentary, preferring to stay home in the web and capture insects while the diminutive male travels in search of a mate. We would venture a guess that this may be a male Marbled Orbweaver, Araneus marmoreus, though we have not seen a photograph of one. We are basing that possible identification on the similarity of the markings on the legs and abdomen of your specimen to the images posted on BugGuide of female Marbled Orbweavers. There is much variability in the markings and coloration of many of the Araneus species, and it is possible that your specimen is another member of the genus or even one of the other genera of Orbweavers. We gladly welcome our readership to assist in this identification.

Thank you so much! Your website is wonderful. Isn’t it funny, the ways we can brighten people’s lives!
Jeannie LeBlanc

Update from Eric Eaton:
Tue, 16 Jun 2009 06:47:16 -0700 (PDT)
Daniel:
I can’t even tell what family that spider belongs in, and not sure if I know anyone else who can, either.  I’d be leaning toward a cobweb weaver (Theridiidae) or sheetweb weaver (Linyphiidae), though….
Eric

Letter 28 – Possibly Male Orbweaver from Australia

 

Subject: Unidentified Spider
Location: Perth, Western Australia
September 16, 2013 12:02 am
Hi,
I would love an ID for this spider if possible – I think it is a Lynx spider, but having looked through various guides online, I can’t see a similar looking one? I found it on my cat’s scratching post on my verandah in Perth, Western Australia. Body length approx. 8-10mm.
It has an interesting mosaic pattern on the abdomen.
He was released unharmed after the photo 🙂
Many thanks
Tanya
Signature: Tanya

Possibly Male Orbweaver
Possibly Male Orbweaver

Hi Tanya,
The eye pattern on this spider looks most like that of the Orbweavers in the family Araneidae (see BugGuide).  The large pedipalps indicate this is a male spider.  The body pattern also reminds us of Orbweaver Spiders, so our initial guess is that this is some male Orbweaver, but we haven’t had any luck matching it to an images online.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck with an ID.

Reader Emails

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

Letter 1 – The Spider and the Butterfly

 

While watering the garden, we couldn’t help but to be amazed by this backyard drama. A Marine Blue butterfly, Leptotes marina, was startled into flight because of our hose. It flew directly into the web of a baby orb weaver, probably a Jeweled Araneas who strung a web in the lemon tree, and was quickly ensnared and sucked dry.

Authors

    by
  • 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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts

14 thoughts on “How Long Do Orb Weavers Live: Fascinating Lifespan Facts”

  1. You should hold a contest to give these guys a name, they’re too cute not to be recognized! I submit that they should be called green charmers.

    Reply
  2. Perhaps a Leucauge? They’re in the Tetragnathidae at the moment, but according to Rob Whyte at Arachne.org.au they’ve been shuffled between the orb-weavers and the tetragnaths repeatedly.

    Leucauge granulata, for example, is the Roughened Silver Orbweaver

    Reply
  3. Perhaps a Leucauge? They’re in the Tetragnathidae at the moment, but according to Rob Whyte at Arachne.org.au they’ve been shuffled between the orb-weavers and the tetragnaths repeatedly.

    Leucauge granulata, for example, is the Roughened Silver Orbweaver

    Reply
    • Perhaps we are being overly sensitive, but we are still awaiting a “thank you” from Candace or at least an acknowledgement that she received our response. We rue the lack of etiquette in modern society.

      Reply
  4. Hi.
    This is Nephilengys cruentata in the family Nephilidae. It’s native from Africa and became common in South and Southestern Brazil.
    This is the most frequent identification request on Insetologia.
    Very large, sinantropic, variable in colour, likes to make its web in roofs, as pictured here.

    Reply
  5. Hi.
    This is Nephilengys cruentata in the family Nephilidae. It’s native from Africa and became common in South and Southestern Brazil.
    This is the most frequent identification request on Insetologia.
    Very large, sinantropic, variable in colour, likes to make its web in roofs, as pictured here.

    Reply
  6. This needs to be a lesson 101 on how to NOT treat spiders. Folks need to grow up and educate themselves on such things that are a million times smaller than they are. Treating creatures like this is pure unnecessary foolishness and ignorance. Orb weavers are ESPECIALLY beneficial to your home and surroundings.

    Reply

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