Marbled Orb-Weaver: Essential Facts and Tips

The marbled orb-weaver spider is a fascinating creature with a colorful appearance and a wide range across the eastern United States. The patterns and colors of these spiders vary significantly, ranging from white, yellow, orange, tan, and grayish, with mottling and spotting of black, brown, or purple Missouri Department of Conservation.

These spiders are part of the orb-weaver family, known for their intricate, circular webs. The marbled orb-weaver is an especially interesting member of this group due to its unique patterns and large abdomen Penn State Extension. In this article, we will explore all the aspects of the marbled orb-weaver spider, including their habitat, behavior, and interesting facts. Stay tuned as we unravel the secrets of this captivating arachnid!

Marbled Orb-Weaver Overview

Scientific Classification

The marbled orb-weaver (Araneus marmoreus) belongs to the animal kingdom under the phylum Arthropoda. Here is its classification breakdown:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Family: Araneidae
  • Genus: Araneus
  • Species: A. marmoreus

This spider is a member of the orb-weaver family, known for their unique, circular webs.

Appearance

Marbled orb-weavers are striking creatures due to their variable appearance. Their colors can range from orange, yellow, white, tan, and grayish with patterns like mottling and spotting of black, brown, or purple sometimes present. The spider’s oval abdomen is often highlighted with different colors and patterns, making each individual unique.

  • Size: They range from 9 to 20 millimeters in length.
  • Body: The cephalothorax is yellow to burnt-orange with a central dark line and dark lines on either side.

Marbled orb weavers display variation in their appearance, especially in terms of colors and patterns. Here are some examples of their distinctive characteristics:

  • Abdomen color: mostly orange, sometimes nearly white
  • Abdomen pattern: brown to purple markings, spots of pale yellow
  • Leg color: often resemble the abdomen’s color, with additional stripes and tibial spines

In comparison to other species within the orb-weaver family, the marbled orb-weaver holds a unique place due to its colorful and diverse appearance.

Distribution and Habitat

Range

The Marbled Orb-Weaver spider (Araneus marmoreus) is a colorful and widely distributed species. It can be found throughout:

  • North America
  • Canada
  • Europe

In the United States, its range includes, but is not limited to:

  • Texas
  • Alaska
  • North Dakota
  • Michigan
  • Oregon
  • Connecticut
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New York
  • South Carolina

This species favors various habitat types such as:

  • Streams
  • Fields
  • Forests
  • Wooded settings

For example, you may encounter a Marbled Orb-Weaver near streams in Oregon, or in fields in Missouri.

Key characteristics of the Marbled Orb-Weaver spider include:

  • Colorful patterns
  • Large, rounded abdomen
  • Wide distribution

Given their wide distribution, Marbled Orb-Weavers can be compared to other orb-weaver spiders. Below is a comparison table of their range and habitats:

Spider Species Range Habitat
Marbled Orb-Weaver North America, Europe, Canada Streams, fields, forests, wooded settings
Furrow Orbweavers North America, Europe, Canada Streams, fields, forests, wooded settings
Basilica Orbweaver North America, Europe, Canada Streams, fields, forests, wooded settings

Overall, Marbled Orb-Weaver spiders enjoy a wide range of habitats, making them a versatile and fascinating species.

Life Cycle and Behavior

Reproduction

  • Mating season for Araneus occurs in the spring and summer
  • Males use pheromones and touch to find a receptive female

Marbled Orb-Weaver spiders, a species in the Araneus genus, have a fascinating life cycle. Their reproduction typically takes place in the spring and summer months. During this time, male spiders search for females using pheromones and touch to locate a receptive mate.

Hunting and Feeding

  • Webs are built to capture insects as prey
  • Vibrations signal the presence of trapped prey

Regarding hunting and feeding, these spiders create intricate webs to capture their prey, primarily consisting of a variety of insects. Once the prey is caught in the web, the spider senses the disturbance through vibrations and quickly locates its meal.

Prey Predators
Insects Wasps

Throughout their life, Marbled Orb-Weavers may fall victim to predators themselves, such as wasps. However, their venomous bite serves as an effective defense mechanism in many situations.

Several Hundred Eggs & Spider Facts

  • Females lay several hundred eggs in a silken retreat
  • Orb weavers are known for their marble-like patterns on their abdomen

Female Marbled Orb-Weavers lay several hundred eggs in a protective silken retreat during their lifetime. As a final interesting fact, these spiders are easily recognizable due to the beautiful, intricate marble-like patterns present on their abdomen.

Conservation and Interaction with Humans

The marbled orb-weaver is a colorful spider with a wide range that includes all of the eastern United States. It has a pattern that varies in color1. Although not considered an endangered species, it is still essential to maintain their habitats for a healthy ecosystem.

Marbled orb-weavers are generally harmless to humans and pose no significant threat. They are often compared to the mildness of a bee sting2, which means that unless someone is allergic to their venom, they are unlikely to cause severe reactions. They are not aggressive and prefer to avoid contact with humans when possible.

When it comes to conservation, marbled orb-weavers play a helpful role in controlling insect populations. Here are some important features of the marbled orb-weaver:

  • Create intricate webs for capturing prey
  • Non-aggressive and avoid human interaction
  • Contribute to a balanced ecosystem by controlling insect populations

Keep in mind these characteristics of marbled orb-weavers when considering their importance:

  • Not endangered, but habitat conservation is essential
  • Harmless to humans, with a bite comparable to a bee sting
  • Beneficial to gardens and other natural spaces

Understanding the conservation status and interaction between marbled orb-weavers and humans helps to ensure their coexistence and a healthy, balanced environment.

Additional Facts and Information

Varieties of Marbled Orb-weavers

The marbled orb-weaver, commonly known as the “pumpkin spider,” exhibits various colorations, including:

  • White
  • Light brown
  • Beige
  • Bright yellow
  • Cream

Their abdomens have unique patterns of brown, black, and purple markings. They usually blend well with fall grasses and forests in their habitat.

Common Misconceptions

Misconception 1: Dangerous to humans

While marbled orb-weavers belong to the Araneae family, they are harmless to humans. Their bites may cause minor discomfort, but they are not venomous or life-threatening.

Misconception 2: Aggressive nature

Marbled orb-weavers are typically non-aggressive spiders. They prefer staying close to their orb webs and capture prey using a signal thread.

Misconception 3: Limited habitats

These spiders can thrive in various habitats such as forests, grasses, and residential areas with vegetation.

Comparison Table: Marbled Orb-weaver vs. other orb-weaver species

Features Marbled Orb-weaver Other Orb-weaver Species
Size 9-20mm Varies
Coloration White, light brown, beige, bright yellow, cream Varies
Markings Brown, black, and purple markings Varies
Habitat Forests, grasses, and residential areas with vegetation Varies
Venomous No Varies

Life Cycle

The female marbled orb-weaver creates a cocoon to lay eggs, and the spiderlings emerge after a few weeks.

As you can see, marbled orb-weavers are diverse and intriguing spiders deserving of admiration rather than fear.

Footnotes

  1. Marbled Orbweaver | Missouri Department of Conservation
  2. Marbled Orbweaver Spider – Penn State Extension

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 – Pumpkin Spider

 

A Huge Crab Spider
Location:  Franklin, Tennessee
November 5, 2014
I took a pic of this guy in Franklin, TN. (A town just south of Nashville.). It’s the biggest crab spider I’ve ever seen. He was on the ground in the middle of a path where he’d get squished. I moved him gently to a vine covered fence.
I thought you would like it!
Thank you!
Evie petersen

Beautiful Pumpkin Spider
Beautiful Pumpkin Spider

EEd. Note:  our initial terse response.
pumpkin spider is actually Orbweaver, not Crab Spider

Dear Evie,
We were rushed this morning when we gave you a terse response.  We did not have a chance to tell you we think your image of a Pumpkin Spider, the orange variant of the Marbled Orbweaver, is beautiful.

Letter 2 – Pumpkin Spider

 

Subject: Spider in Georgia
Location: Powder Springs Ga.
November 27, 2014 11:26 am
Hello,
Thank you in advance, for any assistance you may provide in identifying the spider in the photo.
Spider was spotted outside on a deck, November 24th or 25th.
Weather was mild, approx. 50 – 60 degrees.
Thanks again..
Sincerely
Jim J
Powder Springs, Ga.
Signature: Jim J. Powder Springs, Ga

Pumpkin Spider
Pumpkin Spider

Dear Jim J.,
Pumpkin Spiders, an orange color variety of the Marbled Orbweaver, are a common autumnal sighting on our site.

Letter 3 – Pumpkin Spider, AKA Marbled Orbweaver

 

Beautiful Spider
Location: Muscatine, IA
November 11, 2011 6:52 pm
Dear bugman,
While hiking today at Wild Cat Den, me and my girlfriend came across this spider, at first it was just dangling from it’s web, chillin’ in mid air then descended to the ground. I’ve never seen a spider with such bright colors and intricate designs like this in my area and was wondering if you could help identify what kind of spider this is. Getting close to winter right now, it was probably around 50 degrees at the time. Hope that’s enough information to get an id!
Sincerely,
Signature: bugbro

Pumpkin Spider

Dear bugbro,
Your spider is a highly variable orbweaver known as
Araneus marmoreus, and not all individuals have the bright orange coloration that your specimen exhibits.  The orange variation is common enough to warrant the common name of Pumpkin Spider, which we believe refers to the color as well as the Halloween seasonal appearances of the adult spiders that will die with the oncoming winter conditions.  The species is also known as the Marbled Orbweaver.

Letter 4 – Pumpkin Spider with Egg Sac

 

Subject: Pumpkin Spider? McLean, Virginia
Location: On our McLean, Virginia home
November 1, 2013 10:57 pm
Dear Bugman,
We live 6 miles from the White House in McLean, VA. Rain and wind the day after Halloween toppled one of the grim reapers standing guard outside our front door, revealing the perfect holiday decoration ever: a big bright orange spider, touched with black here and there carrying what looked to be a large orange sac on its back!!!
After attaching a note to our house forbidding anyone to disturb our spider, I photographed the new arrival and continued with my post-Halloween errands. A few hours later, the spider’s sac was covered in some sort of fuzzy material. The spider ’s legs were barely visible under its body.
Fast forward to early evening and the fuzzy sac was no longer attached to the body of the spider, who remained close by possibly spinning a web.
Is our new housemate a pumpkin spider? Enquiring minds want to know!
Signature: Brook

Pumpkin Spider with Egg Sac
Pumpkin Spider with Egg Sac

Hi Brook,
Because of your thoughtfulness to provide a note forbidding anyone from disturbing your Pumpkin Spider, we are tagging your post with the Bug Humanitarian Award.  We have a slightly different interpretation of your photos.  Your first image is of a female spider about to lay eggs and her body is swollen.  In the second image, the one we are posting, she has produced an egg sac and she is guarding it.  She will soon die and the egg sac will overwinter, hatching into several hundred spiderlings in the spring.

Bug Humanitarian Awardee:  Guarding a Pumpkin Spider and her Egg Sac
Bug Humanitarian Awardee: Guarding a Pumpkin Spider and her Egg Sac

 

Letter 5 – Pumpkin Spider from West Virginia

 

Subject: pumpkin spider?
Location: Morgantown, WV
December 3, 2012 11:37 am
Hello Bugman,
This is a new one to me – a very bright orange spider. Looking at your site, my guess is that it’s a pumpkin spider? Anyway, I was hoping you would enjoy a picture of a beautiful spider in December! We are having a warm spell here – this was taken near Morgantown, WV. Thank you for your wonderful site!
Signature: Bugwatcher Guitry

Pumpkin Spider

Dear Bugwatcher Guitry,
Thanks so much for sending your late season photograph of what we agree is a Pumpkin Spider,
Araneas marmoreus.  We believe the common name Pumpkin Spider is used to describe this highly variable species when it is orange in coloration and it appears near Halloween.  The more frequently used common name for the species is the Marbled Orbweaver, and it is highly variable in coloration.  We just returned from Thanksgiving holiday in nearby northeast Ohio, and it was comfortably warm while we were there, though we did experience one snow shower that did not stick for long.  Alas, Orbweavers like this Pumpkin Spider do not live more than one season, and we suspect this gal’s days are numbered.  We have a beautiful large Barn Spider in the genus Neoscona that builds a large web on our patio each night and stations herself in the middle of the web awaiting hapless prey attracted by the porch light.  Even in Southern California, we don’t expect her to survive much longer.

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.

  • 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.

8 thoughts on “Marbled Orb-Weaver: Essential Facts and Tips”

  1. Beautiful! I have to look back through some summer photos – this may be what I saw on a sidewalk in Gardiner, MT, near an apple tree. I did the same thing as Evie – moved him off the sidewalk so he wouldn’t get squished. Beautiful and very big!

    Reply
  2. i came across one of these pumpkin spiders today and i thought it was a little crab too. I have never seen one before and with the cold northern ohio weather was very curious. Thank you so much for your site and info. Really glad to know it is a shy harmless spider. (Tiffin,Ohio)

    Reply
  3. Saw a marbled orb on a walk with my boys today in Noblesville, IN. Very creepy-had never seen any spiders like this before. Thought it had been transplanted from the rain forest! 😉

    Reply

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