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
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.
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
The Marbled Orb-Weaver spider (Araneus marmoreus) is a colorful and widely distributed species. It can be found throughout:
- North America
In the United States, its range includes, but is not limited to:
- North Dakota
- New York
- South Carolina
This species favors various habitat types such as:
- 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:
|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
- 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.
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:
- Light brown
- Bright yellow
Their abdomens have unique patterns of brown, black, and purple markings. They usually blend well with fall grasses and forests in their habitat.
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|
|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|
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.
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!
EEd. Note: our initial terse response.
pumpkin spider is actually Orbweaver, not Crab Spider
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
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.
Powder Springs, Ga.
Signature: Jim J. Powder Springs, Ga
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
Location: Muscatine, IA
November 11, 2011 6:52 pm
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!
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
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!
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.
Letter 5 – Pumpkin Spider from West Virginia
Subject: pumpkin spider?
Location: Morgantown, WV
December 3, 2012 11:37 am
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
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.