Orbweaver: All You Need to Know for a Successful Spider Encounter

Orbweaver spiders are a fascinating group of arachnids, known for their intricate, wheel-shaped webs and diverse appearance. They belong to the family Araneidae and can be found in various habitats such as gardens, forests, and meadows. Although they might appear intimidating, most orbweavers are harmless to humans and play a vital role in controlling insect populations.

There are many different types of orbweaver spiders, each displaying unique features and behaviors. For example, the Cross Orbweaver has yellow to brown coloration with a distinctive cross-shaped pattern on its abdomen. In contrast, the Furrow Orbweaver has a zigzag-edged pattern resembling a furrow or leaf. Meanwhile, the Spotted Orbweaver showcases an upside-down spruce tree pattern on its abdomen. It’s important to pay attention to these details when trying to identify different species.

In addition to their captivating appearance, orbweavers are known for their remarkable engineering skills. They construct wheel-shaped webs from their silk, with radiating spokes and a spiral pattern. These impressive structures allow the spiders to catch a variety of flying insects as their primary food source.

Orbweaver Basics

Physical Features

Orbweaver spiders are known for their distinct appearance and colorful patterns. Some common features of orbweavers include:

  • Large abdomens, which may overlap slightly with the cephalothorax 1
  • Sizes ranging from 9 to 20 millimeters in length, depending on the species 2
  • Eight legs, like all spiders
  • Variety of colors, including orange, yellow, and brown, with some having greenish-brown markings 3

For example, the marbled orbweaver has a mostly orange abdomen with brown to purple markings and spots of pale yellow. Its cephalothorax is yellow to burnt-orange with a central dark line and dark lines down either side 2.

Species and Types

Orbweaver spiders belong to two main families: Araneidae and Tetragnathidae. Some common examples include:

Araneidae:

  • Neoscona species, with a slightly triangular-ovate abdomen and a pattern resembling an upside-down spruce tree 3
  • Neoscona arabesca, a common arabesque orbweaver

Tetragnathidae:

  • Orchard orbweavers, such as Leucauge argyrobapta and Leucauge venusta, which are small, attractive spiders found in the eastern U.S. 4
Family Example Species Size Range Color & Patterns
Araneidae Neoscona species 9-20 mm Triangular-ovate abdomen, spruce tree pattern
Tetragnathidae Leucauge argyrobapta Small Attractive, diverse colors

Orbweaver Habitats

Natural Habitats

Orbweaver spiders can be found in a variety of natural habitats, such as:

  • Forests: These spiders are often found in wooded areas, building their webs among tree branches and bushes.
  • Gardens: Orbweavers can also be found in gardens, where they take advantage of the numerous insects attracted to flowering plants.
  • Tall grass: These spiders may build their webs in tall grasses, particularly in areas with high humidity.

For example, the Orchard Orbweaver is commonly found in the eastern United States, while arrowhead spiders are widespread in Missouri.

Human Habitats

Orbweavers can also be found in human-made habitats, such as:

  • Walls: These spiders can build their webs on walls, especially near outdoor lighting fixtures that attract insects.
  • Eaves: Orbweavers are known to create webs in the eaves of buildings, taking advantage of the shelter provided by these structures.
  • Bushes and branches near homes: They may build webs on bushes and branches close to human dwellings, where they can catch insects drawn to the area.

Comparison table of Orbweaver habitats:

Habitat Examples Locations
Natural Forests, gardens, tall grass United States, Canada
Human-made Walls, eaves, bushes near homes Attached to homes and other human structures

In summary, Orbweaver spiders can be found in a wide range of habitats, both natural and human-made, across the United States and Canada. They are adaptable and can build their webs in various locations, making them a common sight in many environments.

Orbweaver Behavior

Diet and Prey

Orbweaver spiders primarily consume small insects such as:

  • Flies
  • Mosquitoes
  • Moths
  • Beetles
  • Crickets

They usually wait motionless in their webs, detecting vibrations to catch their prey.

Web Building

Orbweavers are known for their intricate, spiral webs. Some features of orbweaver webs include:

  • Symmetrical, wheel-shaped pattern
  • Sticky threads for trapping prey
  • Non-sticky radii for the spider to walk on

These webs are usually constructed in gardens, fields, and forests.

Mating Habits

During mating, the male orbweaver approaches the female’s web carefully to avoid being mistaken for prey. Key aspects of their mating habits involve:

  • Male plucks web strands to signal its presence
  • Female accepts or rejects male
  • Successful mating results in egg sacs
  • Spiderlings emerge from egg sacs

Orbweaver spiders exhibit fascinating behaviors related to their diet, web-building, and mating patterns, making them intriguing arachnids to observe.

Orbweaver Interaction with Humans

Benefits and Pest Control

Orbweaver spiders provide significant ecological benefits, particularly in terms of pest control. These fascinating creatures help maintain a harmonious balance within ecosystems by preying on various insects. For example, Orbweavers can reduce the population of mosquitoes, flies, and other bothersome pests in your garden. This natural form of pest control reduces the need for harmful insecticides, creating a healthier environment for both humans and other organisms.

Identifying and Prevention

Orbweaver spiders are easily identified by their intricate webs, which consist of concentric circles and radial spokes. Female spiders tend to be much larger than males, often having orange abdomens with brown, purple, or yellow markings depending on the specific species (source).

In order to minimize human interaction with Orbweavers and potential relocation efforts, consider the following preventative measures:

  • Regularly inspect outdoor areas for web construction
  • Clear away vegetation near buildings to eliminate potential anchor points

By following these guidelines, you are actively promoting a mutually beneficial relationship with Orbweavers and allowing them to perform their valuable pest control function without disturbance.

Orbweaver Safety and Threat

Venom and Bites

Orbweaver spiders, while venomous, are considered mostly harmless to humans. Their venom is effective against small insects but does not pose a significant risk to people. Some common symptoms of an orbweaver bite may include:

  • Mild pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness

If bitten, it is important to clean the bite area and monitor for signs of infection. Although extremely rare, allergic reactions to spider bites can occur. Seek medical attention if any severe symptoms develop.

Aggressiveness and Threat

Orbweavers are known for their docile and non-aggressive nature. They pose little to no threat to humans. Both male and female orbweavers tend to avoid confrontation and will only bite if they feel threatened or cornered. Some key points about their behavior:

  • Orbweavers are more focused on catching prey in their webs than attacking humans.
  • Diurnal orbweavers are often brightly colored, serving as a warning to birds but not indicating aggressiveness toward people1.
  • They prefer gardens, fields, and forests, where they are less likely to encounter humans2.

In conclusion, orbweaver spiders are generally non-threatening creatures that pose little risk to humans. Their venomous bites are usually harmless, and they exhibit docile behavior in their natural habitats.

Orbweaver Species Highlights

Golden Orb Weaver

The Golden Orb Weaver is known for its large size and striking appearance. These spiders are found in a variety of habitats, including tall grass and tree branches. They construct intricate webs to capture their prey.

  • Size: Females are larger, measuring up to 4 inches (10 cm) in leg span, while males are much smaller at around 0.11 inches (3 mm)
  • Color: Golden to reddish brown, with legs featuring bands of black and yellow
  • Webs: Spiral-shaped with a golden sheen and very strong to catch large prey

Yellow Garden Spider

Yellow Garden Spiders are easily recognized by their distinctive black and yellow markings. They are found in a variety of habitats and prefer sunny spots near flowers and plants. Their intricate webs span long distances.

  • Size: Females grow up to 1.1 inch (28 mm) in body length; males are smaller, reaching up to 0.35 inch (9 mm)
  • Eggs: Females lay their eggs in a protective egg sac, ensuring the survival of their offspring
  • Defense: When threatened, they shake or bounce on their webs to deter predators
Comparison Table Orb Weaver Spiders
Golden Orb Weaver Yellow Garden Spider
Large size Smaller size
Golden to reddish-brown color Yellow and black markings
Strong golden webs Intricate webs with long spans

Spiny Orb Weaver Spider

The Spiny Orb Weaver Spider is a small, colorful spider with spines on its abdomen. These spiders are highly adaptable and can be found in a range of habitats.

  • Size: Females measure around 0.16 inch (4 mm) in body length; males are slightly smaller
  • Color: Red, white, or yellow, with black patterns and spines
  • Life cycle: Adults live for around 1 year, with females laying eggs in protective egg sacs

In conclusion, Orbweaver spiders are a diverse and fascinating group of spiders. Their unique features and behaviors make them an interesting subject for study. Remember to observe these spiders from a safe distance and appreciate the beauty and complexity of their webs.

Miscellaneous Orbweaver Facts

Notable Interactions with Other Species

Orbweaver spiders, like most arthropods, interact with various species within their ecosystems. Some of these interactions include:

  • Humidity: These spiders thrive in environments with higher levels of humidity, impacting their natural habitat.
  • Nocturnal: Orbweavers are often nocturnal, meaning they are more active during the night, which affects their interactions with other nocturnal species such as frogs and hummingbirds.
  • Frogs: Frogs may prey on orbweavers, especially when both species share the same natural habitat.
  • Ants: Ants are known to disrupt orbweaver webs and may even consume the spiders themselves in some cases.
  • Butterflies: Orbweavers prey on various insects, including butterflies, and may have a significant impact on their populations.
  • Roaches: Roaches may also be potential prey for orbweavers.
  • Weeds: By preying on insects that feed on plants, orbweavers help in controlling weed populations.

Orbweavers display a range of physical features, which vary depending on the species. Some common characteristics include:

  • Large, rounded abdomens with unique patterns and coloration
  • Long, spindly legs with spines
  • Elaborate, intricate webs

These spiders can be found in various natural habitats, including forests, meadows, and wetlands. They may also be present in human habitation, such as gardens and parks. One example of an orbweaver species is the marbled orbweaver spider, which has a mostly orange abdomen with brown to purple markings and spots of pale yellow. Another example is the orchard orbweaver, which is a small, attractive spider commonly found in the eastern U.S.

Species Habitat Physical Features
Marbled Orbweaver Forests, meadows Large orange abdomen with brown markings
Orchard Orbweaver Forests, gardens Small, slender body with bright coloration and markings

Cannibalism is not uncommon among orbweavers, particularly when resources are scarce. This is especially true for spiny orbweavers, a specific group of orbweavers with prominent spiny projections on their abdomen.

In conclusion, orbweaver spiders are a diverse group of arthropods that interact with various other species in their ecosystems. They play vital roles in controlling insect populations and serve as an important part of the food chain.

Footnotes

  1. https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/naturalist-news/2021-09-16-fall-spider-season-orb-weavers-spin-bigger-webs 2

  2. https://extension.psu.edu/marbled-orbweaver-spider 2 3

  3. https://education.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/spotted-orbweavers 2

  4. https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/MISC/SPIDERS/Leucauge-argyrobapta.html

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 – Spider Fights in the Philippines

 

PHILIPPINE SPIDERS
Location: philippines
November 8, 2010 5:10 am
Hi bugman!
im from philippines..here on our country,some people catch spiders in the shrubs and trees.then they put two spiders in a stick and let them fight each other.i wonder what kind of spiders they are.please help me…thank you..
Signature: correct

Spider Fight

Dear Correct,
We are curious about this custom.  Is this just casual behavior? or is it more organized?  Do people bet on the outcome like cock fights or Siamese fighting fish matches?  Are there spider champions?  Please provide us with additional information.  The spiders in the tiny images you have attached appear to be Orbweavers.

Orbweaver

Ed. Note:  WTB? does not endorse Spider Fighting, but in the interest of documenting this custom, we are including the following links.
Not content to wait for additional information, we did some web searching.  Here is a 1998 article posted on Arachnophiliac.  We also found a Philippine Spider fighting blog post blogspot though it contains much of the same information used on the earlier post.  Guide To also has a posting on Spider fighting.  Finally Hub Pages also has a Spider fight account.

Letter 2 – Probably Teardrop Spider from New Zealand

 

Subject: Unknown Spider
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
January 18, 2015 3:47 pm
Hi there!
Recently found this little interesting spider in our bathroom down in New Zealand, just thought we’d post it up here for a bit of insight as none of us have a clue
Cheers’
Liam
Signature: Cheers’ Liam O’Connor

Possibly Orbweaver
Teardrop Spider

Dear Liam,
We believe this is an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae, and it has a very distinct, pointed abdomen.  The pointy abdomen should make it easy to identify, but we could not find any matching images in our initial search.  There is a genus in Australia on the Brisbane Insect site with a species known as the Scorpion Tailed Spider, but it has much shorter legs than your individual.

Possibly Orbweaver
Teardrop Spider

Update:  March 7, 2016
Thanks to a comment from Geevee, we now believe this may be a Teardrop Spider,
Argiope protensa.

Letter 3 – Probably Tropical Orbweaver

 

Orange and Green Spider
October 11, 2009
I found this spider ON MY 8 MONTH OLD DAUGHTER! I have seen similar spiders outside our home at night but without the green diamond on the body. I live in Miami, Florida, USA. Please identify this spider so I can either find an exterminator or leave my worries behind!
Cristi Cuadrado
Miami, Florida, USA

Orbweaver:  Araneus detrimentosus
Orbweaver: Araneus detrimentosus

Hi Cristi,
We quickly identified your spider as Araneus detrimentosus, a harmless Orbweaver, on BugGuide.  While we would hesitate to claim that this spider will never bite, we have not gotten any reports of anyone being bitten by a member of the genus Araneus.  If the spider was on your daughter, it was undoubtedly a chance encounter.  We would not trouble with an exterminator in this instance, and we truly believe that exposure to pesticides at a tender age would be far more detrimental to your daughter than facing the extremely unlikely odds that this spider, which is not very well represented in images and is probably not terribly common, will bite your daughter or a member of the family.

Probable Correction:  July 26, 2013
One of our readers wrote in believing this might be a Tropical Orbweaver,
Eriophora ravilla.  This seems to be a highly variable spider according to the Featured Creatures website, and the green form looks very much like the submitted photograph.  BugGuide also has the occasional photograph of a green individual.

Letter 4 – Long Jawed Orbweaver

 

Green mystery spider
Location: Garrison, NY
April 6, 2012 2:35 pm
I noticed this pretty and sleek green spider yesterday on a dry canoe by the brook where I work. It is part of a marsh sanctuary, and the canoe is on land near tree cover. Season: spring, time: 3:30 pm. My boss thinks it is a different species of Green Lynx (than most photos show).
Signature: Jacquelyn

Long Jawed Orbweaver

Hi Jacquelyn,
This is most certainly not a Green Lynx Spider.  We believe it may be an Orchard Spider, though there is more green and less white on the abdomen of your specimen than most of the photos posted to BugGuide.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to write in with a correction if that is not the right identification.

Thanks for the feedback, Daniel! I saw the Orchard Spider, and they are beautiful. I thought mine had a thinner abdomen, but perhaps it is a less common variation.

Letter 5 – Newly Hatched Orbweavers

 

baby orb spiders?
Hi! I live in the mountains of NC and just found these spiders this morning in/on an abandoned ash tray on my porch. They look like baby orb spiders, after searching your site and finding a similar picture. Enjoy!
Alisa

Hi Alisa,
We are inclined to agree with your identification. Shortly after you took the photo, the spiders probably climbed to the tallest nearby area and released silk to balloon away in the breeze.

Letter 6 – Orange Orb Weaver

 

Do you know what kind of spider this is?
Hi. I believe I sent you a picture of a spider before. This one was found out in the Conservation District Parking Lot. I thought it may be some kind of Orb Weaver but it’s hard to say. Please let me know what you think.
Thank You,
Cathy Hilscher
Watershed Specialist
Tunkhannock, PA

Hi Cathy,
This is an Araneus Orb Weaver. There is much color variation within species and many species look similar and require anatomical examination to differentiate them. It is a lovely orange specimen.

Letter 7 – Orb Weaver

 

Orb Weaving Spider
Mr. Bugman
I found this spider in a web in our window well. Do you have an idea of what’s its identity is?
Regards,
Bill

Hi Bill,
You are correct, it is an Orb Weaver.

Letter 8 – Orb Weaver

 

Help – what is this spider????
I live in Oak View, California (near Ventura). This guy (girl) is outside my house. About an inch or so long with a big web – hides during the day and sits in the middle of the web at night…. we named him "Peter Parker" – any ideas?
Thanks, Bugman!
Cyndi

Hi Cyndi,
You might want to rename Peter as Petra. She is a female Orb Weaver, genus Araneus.

Letter 9 – Orb Weaver

 

Sun on Web in Trees
Don’t need the bug identified…just wanted to give you the gift of this beautiful production. Thanks for all you do. Enjoyed by many.
Seattle,WA
Dave Wave

Orb Weaver's Web
Orb Weaver

Hi Dave,
Your photo of an Orb Weaver’s Web is sure beautiful.  It is a nice addition to our archives.

Letter 10 – Probably Orb Weaver Spiderlings

 

what spider are these spiderlings?
hello bugpeople!
today in my garden i noticed a cluster of spiderlings. theyre all yellow and i havent counted them! attach two images so hope they come out ok. i live in morden, surrey united kingdom. would be interesting to know what species they are. havent seen mummy spider either. i detest spiders but these guys are cute so i’ll leave them be and keep a watchful eye on them to see how they progress.
cheers
Gemma
p.s. would be great if you could inform me when they have been identified via email and i dont visit whats that bug on a daily basis.

Hi Gemma,
Though we can’t imagine why you don’t visit our site on a daily basis, we generally respond directly to the querant as well as posting a reply. We can only post the most interesting letters with the best images, or the most unusual specimens. We believe these are young Orb Weavers, though we cannot even begin to give you an exact species. Possibly Cross Spiders. They probably dispersed by ballooning shortly after you took the photo.

Letter 11 – Messy Leaf Curling Spider

 

Subject: Yellow striped spider
Location: North Tamborine, Queensland Australia
January 11, 2014 8:44 pm
Hi bug an, can you tell me what spider this is. A simple search of “yellow striped spider” yielded nothing.
Thanks
Ben
Signature: Thanks Ben

Messy Leaf Curling Spider
Messy Leaf Curling Spider

Hi Ben,
We figured this might be an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae, so we browsed through the family on the Brisbane Insect and Spider site and quickly located the Messy Leaf Curling Spider,
Deliochus zelivira, which though the stripes on the individual pictured are white, otherwise resembles your spider.  The description fits as well stating:  “This spider builds large messy retreat by curling a few green and dry leaves bound together by silks. Male and female can be found in the same retreat during breeding season. Males of this species are more often seen because they wandering around looking for females. Matured females are in the messy large retreat and hardly be seen.”  Armed with a scientific name, we then located the Spiders of Australia website that pictures a yellow striped individual, but the family is indicated as Tetragnathidae, the Long-Jawed Orbweavers.  Arachne.org.au utilizes the same image and explains the taxonomy confusion by indicating:  “Deliochus zelivira, probably the most common of the Deliochus spp., found throughout Australia, appears to have been moved to Tetragnathidae then back to Araneidae. The female can grow to 11 mm, the male 5 mm. They construct a retreat of eucalypt leaves. ”  Dave’s Garden also has a photo.  All indications are that your individual is a male. 

Letter 12 – Possibly Spined Orbweaver frow parts unknown

 

Strange spider
I was wondering if you could help me identify this spider. A friend of mine shot it while on a trip and shared this photo with me.
Francisco

Hi Francisco,
We have been known to ignore identification requests that do not include location information, but your spider is so interesting, we are posting despite not knowing where it is from. We suspect it is in the genus Micrathena. It matches a photo of Micrathena gracilis, the Spined Orbweaver, we located on Bugguide quite closely.

Letter 13 – Immature Orbweaver

 

Subject:  Seen hiking
Geographic location of the bug:  On the hike to Jump Creek, outside Marsing, ID
Date: 07/13/2018
Time: 07:59 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Saw this spider on it’s web over a creek, interested in what it is?
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks!!

Orbweaver

Your Spider is an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae, and we believe it is an immature member of the genus Argiope, but we cannot be certain from this ventral view.  Orbweavers are not dangerous to humans.

Orbweaver

Letter 14 – Indigenous Hawaiian Orbweaver

 

Subject: BIG spider on Kauai!
Location: Powerline Trail, Kauai.
July 31, 2017 5:29 pm
Hi again, here are the photos of the large web spider I saw on Kauai about three weeks ago (see my previous post). It sounds as if it’s similar to the ones that other contributors have seen.
Signature: Malcolm

Argiope avara kauaiensis

Dear Malcolm,
Thanks for sending your images of
Argiope avara kauaiensis, an indigenous harmless, Orbweaver from Kauai.  Thank you for your description of the size of the web in the comment you made:  “I have just returned from Kauai where I saw a huge spider that looked like this. It was at the highest elevation of the Powerline Trail, in a seldom visited area. The spider was enormous, and it was sitting in a web between two trees that must have been at least 25 feet apart. It was the biggest web spider I have ever seen. I have a photo, taken on an overcast day and using a zoom (I didn’t want to get too close!), but I’m having some trouble attaching it.”

Argiope avara kauaiensis


Letter 15 – Knobbled Orbweaver from New Zealand

 

Subject: New Zealand Garden Orb Weaver spider, Eriophora pustulosa
Location: Wellington, NZ
October 12, 2013 5:40 pm
Hi Bugman
I was searching to identify the spider in the photo and found the answer on this site – thank you! Sorry this is in wrong section (should be I general comments!) but I wanted to share the photo!
Cheers
Signature: Raewyn

Orbweaver
Knobbled Orbweaver

Hi Raewyn,
Thank you for locating a link in our archives that identifies your Orbweaver.  We do need to provide a disclaimer that though we agree that this is an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae, we cannot confirm with 100% certainty that the species is
Eriophora pustulosa as it is a highly variable species.  Arachne.org.au, where Eriophora pustulosa is known as the Knobbled Orbweaver, states it is:  “An extremely widespread, medium-sized orbweaver across most of southern Australia and nearby places including New Zealand where it is one of the most commonly seen spiders. Its pattern varies enormously in colour from greys, black, white, browns and oranges, often mottled. It has several obvious knobs on its back, or upper surface of the abdomen, usually five at the rear end near the spinnerets.”

Letter 16 – Male Orbweaver

 

Subject:  Minnesota spider with “v” markings?
Geographic location of the bug:  Hennepin County, Minnesota
Date: 10/10/2017
Time: 05:37 PM EDT
I found this spider on a building next to the Mississippi River in early October. I thought identifying it would be easy because of the clear “v” markings on the abdomen and thorax and large pedipalps, but I can’t find it anywhere! It ran away before I could get a picture of its eye arrangement, but I estimate it was about 1.5-1.75 inches long (including legs).
How you want your letter signed:  Eli

Male Orbweaver

Dear Eli,
This looks to us like a male Orbweaver, probably in the genus
Araneus.  It looks similar to the male Barn Spider posted to BugGuide

Letter 17 – Nocturnal Orbweaver is probably Bridge Spider

 

Subject: Walnut Orb Weaver (Night Euro Garden Spider)
Location: Dresden, Germany
November 15, 2012 8:05 am
Hi!
I couldn’t find this spider on your site so thought I would share my pictures even though they are not all that good.
I thought at first this spider is the nighttime version of what is commonly called the European Garden Spider (which despite the name is common to the Americas).
When I first became interested in spiders (which would develop into a fascination) my main observations were in the back patio of the apartment we had in Oregon. There were a couple varieties of large spiders but the ones visible during the day were often on the plants while the night ones were near the porch light (I would often turn it on so they could attract more food). They were very similar to each other but different. And while they both seemed docile (though quite efficient with their prey), the evening ones seemed bolder & more impressive somehow (though always hidden during the day). Sadly I didn’t even have a camera then.
Eventually I discovered the daytime ones are Cross spiders (apparently not to be confused with the St Andrew’s Cross Spider) because of the markings on their back (abdomen?). They are fun to watch as they get bigger and bigger. They actually become matriarchs with big webs that they will clean of debris and carcasses. It’s fun to see them become so big then almost deflate after they make their eggcase(s). It’s sad though when they disappear because that means they have likely died. They will occasionally end up on a person, or in a house (having likely hitched a ride when someone walks through one of their homes) and will build a web inside, in the same place over and over if allowed, but are easy to relocate outside being very passive. Also interesting to watch the courtship as they pluck web strings to decide whether to come closer. Oh, but you know all this. 😀
But, the night ones remained elusive for me. So of all things, one I was most looking forward to in Europe was seeing spiders! 😀
I was strolling alone in Dresden waiting for my SO to get out of a meeting (mid-September) when I saw a large spider moving against the wall near a restaurant. I was thrilled the restaurant let them be instead of cleaning them off which was apparent since there were several of many sizes. And so I stood observing and trying to capture them with my little snap camera (meaning the pics are not that good but it was also night — no doubt all the other tourists thought I was crazy taking close-up pictures of a white wall :D). What most interested me is that the males seem to be as big or bigger than the females and they live close to each other. But also how different the spiders seem whether viewed from top or below. It’s only the shadow of the female that made me realize they are the same.
Alas, these must not be the nighttime spiders common in the NW of the US as these, it turns out, are the Walnut Orb Weaver aka Nuctenea umbratica, which is commonly called ”Spaltenkreuzspinne” in Germany (Columns Cross/Garden Spider), and these are mainly a European species (though widespread), that does sometimes bite (though that is not common). These have dimples in their abdomens that are apparently muscles to allow them to flatten against things when hiding during the day. Cool!
So… my question to you then is; what is the night version of the common European Garden Spider found in the States that often hangs out near porch lights?
(ps, thank you for putting my wasp pics up; that was a nice surprise… I have more bugs to share/ask about and hope that is okay)
Signature: Curious Girl

Orbweaver

Dear Curious Girl,
We are not certain of the genus or species of this German Orbweaver, but we can speculate that most likely your nocturnal Orbweaver from Oregon is in the genus
Neoscona.  According to BugGuide:  “N. crucifera & N. domiciliorumbuild thier webs at dusk and then take the webs back down around dawn. (Kaston 1976).” 

Orbweaver

Oh, you are VERY GOOD!
That’s the one! 🙂
Barn Spider!
Yay!

 

Letter 18 – Questions about Orbweavers

 

Subject: Argiope Aurantia – Question about Life Cycle
October 23, 2014 11:37 am
Dear Bugman and friends,
We have been lucky to have had three yellow garden spiders in our yard this year build webs where we could easily observe them. Our family watched all three build daily webs, eat, and grow for a few weeks. One spider got very large (in our opinion), perhaps a body of about an inch, not counting her legs. The other two were a bit smaller than that. One seemed to have a mate after some time, a little fellow that hung out on the edge of her web and crept closer over time (although we don’t know if there was ever any “action”). They all followed the same pattern, web building, eating, growing, and then disappearing. We are wondering if you could tell us why they just disappear…They are around for 2-3 weeks. The first one who disappeared possibly did not get enough to eat at the end; however, we did feed her a few flies the night before she disappeared, which she declined to eat (although she had eaten other flies we had gotten her previously). The other ate a really great meal one day,
at least 3-4 decent sized bugs (in fact, she had another bug caught in her web that she didn’t get to), and then disappeared two days later. What we noticed on the two we were able to observe closely is that they ate fine one day, but didn’t rebuild their webs that night, hung around kind of crooked the following day, and then were gone the next day. We were just wondering if you could let us know if this is typical for their life cycle. It did not get cold, it seemed like they had enough to eat, we didn’t see a dead spider on the ground under the web, no one walked into the webs, two were high enough that the only predators would possibly be birds (but one was right up against our window so it seems like it would have been very hard for a bird to get her without smacking against the glass). We got attached to all three, which may sound silly, and were really sad when they disappeared. So, I thought I would write you to find out if you could offer any insight. I know you are busy,
but just wanted to try. Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated. We have looked online and have been unable to find anything ourselves. Thanks again in advance.
Linda, Steve, and Gage
Signature: Linda Vincent

Golden Orbweaver from our Archives
Golden Orbweaver from our Archives

Dear Linda, Steve and Gage,
Sadly, we don’t know what happened to your Golden Orbweavers.  We have had similar experiences with individuals in our own Los Angeles garden.  They seem to just vanish one day.  The life cycle of Golden Orbweavers is a single season, and even if the weather if fine, it is still nearing the end of the year.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide you with some information.

Letter 19 – Silk Shawl in New York Times

 

At the American Museum of Natural History, Gossamer Silk From Spiders – NYTimes.com
January 24, 2011
Because of my interest in arthropods, my daughter sent me this link.  I thought you’d love to link to it on your site!  There is a nice photo of Golden Orb Weavers from Madagascar, too.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/23/arts/design/23spiders.html?_r=2

Thanks.  We have seen this online article before and we had thought we had already linked to it on our site, but we were unable to locate it in the archives.  It is now a posting.

Letter 20 – South Korean Orb Weaver

 

Some South Korean spider
WhatsThatBug guys and gals, here’s one for you.
I found this beauty while climbing cliffs near Monseongri, Yeosu, South Korea. In fact, I spotted three of these — I dodged two of them and kicked a third off my pants. I’ve not seen this particular kind of spider before, and though I’ve climbed many rocks and traveled to many beaches across the US and South Korea, I’ve never seen this spider outside of that one beach (but it’s been there every time I’ve been). This photo was taken last weekend, so obviously this bug isn’t too perturbed by the chilly weather. I thought it might be an orb weaver, but the red throws me off a little bit. Also, though it’s rather hard to see, the yellow and red sections are outlined in green. This spider has the most fascinating colors I’ve ever seen on a bug! This one was about 6cm from leg to leg. In any case, it sure is pretty (but I couldn’t get any of my female climbing partners to appreciate it as much as I did)! Is this an orb weaver or am I missing the ball?
Best,
Brandon

Hi Brandon,
We have no idea what species this is and have never seen a spider quite like it before, but it is most assuredly an Orb Weaver. We believe it is an Argiope species.

Letter 21 – Spider Pavilion at the Natural History Museum

 

Ed. Note:  This email arrived at the personal email address our a member of our editorial staff

September 9, 2011 1:03:19 PM PDT
These came to me from the Natural History Museum. (I’m listing their Spider Pavilion on my website). I wanted to know what kind of spiders these are…I’m afraid they won’t know…golden orb weavers in your opinion? That’s the best I could come up with after perusing your site.
I appreciate your eyeballs!
Best,
Brenda Rees
Editor
Southern California Wildlife

Golden Silk Spider

Hi Brenda,
The silk of the Golden Silk Spider,
Nephila clavipes, is among the strongest fibers known to man, and a shawl that was woven with the naturally colored silkof a close relative from Madagascar is one of the most gorgeous woven objects imaginable.  Nephila clavipes is the only new world species from the genus, and one can’t help but to wonder if it was introduced by man many centuries ago and then mutated through successive generations to produce a unique species.

Marbled Orbweaver

The other spider pictured is the Marbled Orbweaver, Araneus marmoreus.  We found a visual match on BugGuide, but it is a highly variable species with many gorgeous color variations, and you may also read about it on Bugguide.

P.S.  The piece you wrote on Daniel was quite nice and several of his friends called to say they had seen it.

 

Letter 22 – Orb Weaver

 

whats my spider?
Hi, I saw this particular spider last year around this time and this year I see what seems to be the same spider as before. What kind of spider is this and is it poisonous?

While all spiders have poison glands, your unidentified Orb Weaver from the genus Araneus poses no threat to you, however, it does seem adept at capturing and dispatching small winged insects.

Letter 23 – Sighting of Orbweaver causes spike in heart activity

 

Subject: Scary Workout haha
Location: San Jose, CA
November 11, 2014 12:28 pm
So I was riding my bike on a fluid trainer in my garage and this big spider walks right under me (surprising with the amount of vibration and air movement caused by the rear wheel and flywheel spinning). I kept an eye on it for a while but due to it’s several attempts at climbing up my trainer base I decided it was time for this one to go. I got a piece of cardboard and let the spider crawl onto it….the spider seemed quite mellow and I started to head outside but forgot to point the cardboard up away from me so of course the spider crawled up towards my hand and I dropped the whole thing. Again, the spider was chillin and I got the cardboard and picked it up and took it outside. I then later realized that I had been wearing a heart monitor thru the entire experience and had a good laugh at the jump in my heart rate at about that moment that I dropped the spider. Anyway, it’s outside somewhere now where it belongs but I am curious what it was since it was at l east twice as big as what I normally see around the house.
Signature: Matt

Orbweaver
Orbweaver

Dear Matt,
This is a harmless Orbweaver in the family Araneidae.  We found your story quite amusing, but we were unable to open your attachment.  We really wanted to post your letter, so we resorted to creating a screen shot to have an image to post.

Yeah, it seemed pretty harmless and surprisingly calm when I picked it up and then dropped it.  It had all the swagger of a much larger tarantula so it was easy to work with to get it out of the house (because it didn’t run around at high speed).  Thank you for the ID though.  I was curious because although I’ve seen tarantulas outside up in the hills when bike riding and this spider is much smaller, this is the biggest spider I’ve ever seen inside my house haha.
Matt

Letter 24 – Silver Garden Orbweaver

 

Subject: Spider
Location: Del Mar, CA, 1/2 mile from ocean
December 4, 2016 11:59 pm
We’ve seen this spider in our front yard in the same place for about three months. It seems to have a yellow outline of an hourglass on its belly. We’d like to know what kind of spider it is and if it’s poisonous.
Signature: Matthew Lee

Silver Garden Orbweaver
Silver Garden Orbweaver

Dear Matthew,
This beautiful Silver Garden Orbweaver,
Argiope argentata, is considered harmless, though large individuals might bite if carelessly handled.  Most spiders are venomous, though very few have a venom powerful enough to threaten humans.

Silver Garden Orbweaver
Silver Garden Orbweaver

Thanks very much!  I’m glad it’s considered harmless.  We will leave it alone then.
–Matt

Letter 25 – Silver Orbweaver

 

Subject: What is this Spider
Location: Southern California
August 8, 2015 7:39 am
Hello
We found this spider in the bushes next to my house in ladera ranch, Ca. (Southern California). Please let me know, so I can tell my son. Is it friendly?
Thank you
Signature: Dennis Fox

Silver Orbweaver
Silver Orbweaver

Dear Dennis,
As much as we feel the need to promote the benefits of insects, spiders and other bugs, we have a really hard time thinking of spiders as “friendly” but with that said, this Silver Orbweaver,
Argiope agrentata, is not considered either an aggressive or dangerous species.  Orbweavers are relatively docile spiders that generally remain in their webs, and they are actually quite clumsy when attempting to move about outside the web.

Letter 26 – Reader Paranoia and South American Micrathena: Arrowshaped Orbweaver

 

Unknown spiked spider, Black, Yellow and Red, Guyana, South America
September 12, 2009
I found this spider in Guyana, South America. Taken August 21, 2009, during the start of the dry season. It was in Surama Village, located in the North Rupununi Savannah. It’s location is 4 degrees north latitude and 59 degrees west longitude. This village is where the rainforest meets the savannah. The spider was in the rainforest, not savannah. This picture is somewhat overexposed from sunlight, but the spiders back end is bright yellow (looks kind of white in the picture), with a little bit of red and black. The yellow continues to it’s upper body. I estimate that it measures about 1 to 1.5 inches from head to end.
Bryan (Ed. Note:  Surname withheld upon request January 9, 2010)
North Rupununi, Guyana, South America

South American Micrathena
South American Micrathena

Hi Brian,
Perhaps one of our readers will be able to supply you with an exact species.  We are relatively certain your spider is an Orbweaver in the genus Micrathena.  There is a North American species, Micrathena sagittata, that looks quite similar and is known as the Arrowshaped Micrathena.  That species is represented on BugGuide.  Your individual may be closely related or even be a subspecies.

Update
South American Micrathena: Arrowshaped Orbweaver – Unknown spiked spider, Black, Yellow and Red, Guyana, South America
September 12, 2009
Hi Daniel:
I think it pretty much has to be Micrathena, as you suggest.  It does look very similar to M. sagittata and that species does occur as for south as Guyana, but I don’t think that’s it.  It looks more like another wide ranging species, M. schreibersi.  As is so often the case, this species is variable and the red highlights are not always present, but most of the other prominent features seem to match as well.  If I may hedge a little, however, this is a very abundant genus with over 100 species, almost all of them neotropical, so there may be other candidates as well. Regards.
Karl

A Reader’s Paranoia:  Will writing to WTB? negatively compromise a person’s reputation?
Can you please remove my name from being published?
January 9, 2011 6:19 pm
Hello,
I have a post on here with my full name. I didn’t realize you would disclose this on the website, which comes up on google if my name is searched. Can you please remove my name from the post? Thank you.
Signature: Bryan

Dear Bryan,
We post letters verbatim and that includes the signatures provided by people who write to us.  We do not disclose email addresses or other private information, and we strictly limit the postings to the actual content of the questions and comments we receive.  We cannot imagine the horror you felt when people who read your My Space page and Facebook page discovered that you had an interest in identifying a spider.  We sincerely hope your reputation wasn’t terribly compromised by our posting and we hope that people don’t think less of you for trying to increase your knowledge of the natural world.  We will remove your surname from the posting though we frown upon do-overs when it comes to our postings.  We wish you luck eliminating other paranoia you may have.

Letter 27 – Spider from Indonesia might be Long Jawed Orbweaver

 

Subject: What spider is it?
Location: Ranca Upas, Ciwidey, West Java, Indonesia
January 7, 2013 8:03 am
Hello Daniel,
Way back on 2010 I took this spider pic, but I haven’t got any clue what spider is it. Hope that you can help.
This guy have some interesting silver & black pattern abdomen.
Signature: Mohamad Idham Iskandar

Possibly Longjawed Orbweaver

Hi Mohamad,
This spider reminds us of the North American spiders in the family Tetragnathidae, commonly called the Longjawed Orbweavers.  We cannot substantiate that with any photos from Indonesia in our brief attempts at an identification.  You can compare your photo to the North American Longjawed Orbweavers on BugGuide.

Possibly Longjawed Orbweaver

Hi Daniel,
Thanks a lot for the info, after reading info from BugGuide, especially this line:
“They vary in appearance, but those most commonly found are long-legged, thin-bodied spiders. When at rest, they may cling lengthwise along a twig or blade of grass, holding on with the short third pair of legs. The long pairs of legs are extended.”,
and comparing the images to orchard spider that I found in Indonesia I’m more assured that this one is an Long-jawed Orb Weavers (Tetragnathidae).

Letter 28 – Spider from Indonesia resembles Orbweaver

 

Subject: strawberry spider
Location: Situ Cileunca, Warnasari, Pangalengan, West Java, Indonesia
December 6, 2012 5:04 am
This little guy have a young strawberry fruit like abdomen 11/27/2010.
Signature: Mohamad Idham Iskandar

Possibly Orbweaver

Hi again Mohamad,
There are no matching photos that resemble your spider on the Monga Bay Spiders in Indonesia page.  In our opinion, this resembles one of the Orbweavers in the family Araneidae.  They are almost always found in an orb shaped web of classic spider web design and the females tend to have bulbous abdomens.

Letter 29 – Immature Golden Silk Spider from Brazil

 

Subject: Spider from Brazil
Location: Abaeté Brazil
February 19, 2013 9:26 am
I saw these spiders on a farm near Abaeté Brazil. There were hundreds of them on the fences and low hanging tree limbs. They remind me of garden spiders back in the states.
Signature: Landon

Orbweaver

Hi Landon,
We are not certain which Garden Spider you are reminded of, but Garden Spider is a common name for many species in the family Araneidae, the Orbweavers (see BugGuide).  This is an Orbweaver, but we are not certain of the species.  Other families known as Orbweavers include the Long-Jawed Orbweavers in the family Tetragnathidae (see BugGuide) and the Golden Silk Spiders in the family Nephilidae (see BugGuide).  On our site, they are all listed as Orbweavers.  Your spider looks to us to be a Long-Jawed Orbweaver in the family Tetragnathidae.  Perhaps Cesar Crash will be able to provide an identification.

Orbweaver

I just looked at the orb weaver section on your site after submitting my request. I do see the similarities to the golden orb weavers. Thanks for taking a look at it.
Landon

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.

36 thoughts on “Orbweaver: All You Need to Know for a Successful Spider Encounter”

  1. sir, this is casual behavior. people bets.this type of gambling is against the law.there are spider champions. thank you..
    correct

    Reply
  2. I believe you may be mistaken on the ID of the spider in the picture sent in by Cristi back in October of 2009. She described it as an orange and green spider that she had found on her baby in Miami, FL. You identified it as Araneus detrimentosus, a green orb weaver. After studying the image and comparing it to other photos of A. detrimentosus, I searched for other possible candidates. I believe that it is more likely to be a juvenile form of Eriophora ravilla, a tropical orb weaver. This does not change the advice you gave to Cristi, which I believe to be sound, but I thought you and others searching the web trying to ID this spider might like to give the tropical orb weaver a look before concluding which spider you actually have.

    Reply
  3. Just want to update on this now that I’m here with a little time… I thought these were the “Walnut Orb Weaver” as I originally put in the subject when I sent it. I wasn’t very sophisticated at the time in my submissions so did not include the latin name or a link to a relevant site (though I know you are not big on Wikipedia):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuctenea_umbratica

    Everything made sense then… especially the part about hanging on buildings.

    But turns out I was wrong and this is actually Larinioides sclopetarius, commonly called a “Bridge Spider” (Orbweaver) as they like to hang out on, you guessed it, bridges (or other metal objects like window sills in this case) or “Gray Cross Spider” (perhaps due to their similarity to the daytime common Garden/Cross Spider. They are a Euro species which is now also in the US, including Oregon.

    http://bugguide.net/node/view/119789/bgimage

    For comparison, the daytime Cross Orbweaver/European Garden Spider:
    http://bugguide.net/node/view/3376

    And to make it complete, the nocturnal Barn Spider in the US can be found here:
    http://bugguide.net/node/view/69874

    The two spiders above started my fascination with buggy stuff. :^)

    Reply
  4. Just want to update on this now that I’m here with a little time… I thought these were the “Walnut Orb Weaver” as I originally put in the subject when I sent it. I wasn’t very sophisticated at the time in my submissions so did not include the latin name or a link to a relevant site (though I know you are not big on Wikipedia):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuctenea_umbratica

    Everything made sense then… especially the part about hanging on buildings.

    But turns out I was wrong and this is actually Larinioides sclopetarius, commonly called a “Bridge Spider” (Orbweaver) as they like to hang out on, you guessed it, bridges (or other metal objects like window sills in this case) or “Gray Cross Spider” (perhaps due to their similarity to the daytime common Garden/Cross Spider. They are a Euro species which is now also in the US, including Oregon.

    http://bugguide.net/node/view/119789/bgimage

    For comparison, the daytime Cross Orbweaver/European Garden Spider:
    http://bugguide.net/node/view/3376

    And to make it complete, the nocturnal Barn Spider in the US can be found here:
    http://bugguide.net/node/view/69874

    The two spiders above started my fascination with buggy stuff. :^)

    Reply
  5. I keep a close eye on our crop of orbweavers in a now unused pasture. They are my “therapy spiders” as I WAS terrified of them until I started to get to know them. In the height of the summer, there is literally 1 spider per square foot, especially in the purple loosestrife patches where there are also oodles of bugs for them!

    Whenever they disappear for the season, which is about the time of the first frost, I always keep an eye out for their egg sacs, which inevitably show up very close to the spiders hung out for the summer. I have never been able to find a dead spider anywhere in the vicinity though, but they do tend to stay low to the ground once the first frost hits, instead of up in the tall grass in their webs during the summer.

    Reply
  6. Thanks so much for your consideration and posting the question. I look forward to hearing about others’ experiences. We just got another one yesterday so we will see what happens to her now!

    Thanks again. You all are great!!

    Linda

    Reply
  7. Thanks so much for your consideration and posting the question. I look forward to hearing about others’ experiences. We just got another one yesterday so we will see what happens to her now!

    Thanks again. You all are great!!

    Linda

    Reply
  8. since the spider lack the characteristic shape of abdomen found in the scorpion tailed spider, I would suggest the possibility of a freshly molted orbweaver specimen (such as golden orb weaver)
    in these case, the spider can have a different coloration, and if incident occurred, dimorphism can also be present until the next molt
    Deckez

    Reply
  9. since the spider lack the characteristic shape of abdomen found in the scorpion tailed spider, I would suggest the possibility of a freshly molted orbweaver specimen (such as golden orb weaver)
    in these case, the spider can have a different coloration, and if incident occurred, dimorphism can also be present until the next molt
    Deckez

    Reply
  10. common name “Tailed grass spider”… There is another called “tailed forest spider” which is different to this (Arachnura feredayi)

    Reply
  11. I used to collect a certain male spider I call the champion spider in a big jar and add a male wood spider they would fight and my favorite spider would beat them everytime. The [KING OF THE WEB RING]

    Reply
  12. Nummber 1 I don’t gamble I just put a male false black widow spider in my plastic cage with the lid and a mother male like a male house spider the one that males webs in certain spots under the steps or in top corners of windows I puthem in there to see a territorial fight and we my favorite spider the false black widow win and its not for money. 2 you and this everything s against the law stuff need to stop cause thats how you make criminals.

    Reply
  13. Gambling involves money I put my spiders in a natural environment and let them fight over territory your one of tho trump supporters I hate them a penny is illegal to you y’all are sooo dumb.

    Reply

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