Orchard spiders are delicate, colorful creatures known for their distinctive circular webs. Common in gardens and surrounding homes, these spiders belong to two species: Leucauge argyrobapta and Leucauge venusta, both of which can be found in the eastern United States. Their attractive appearance and prevalence in nature make them a subject of interest for many people.
Despite their small size, orchard spiders exhibit unique features that set them apart from other spiders, such as their yellowish-green carapace with brown stripes on the sides, and an elongated abdomen. The webs they create are often positioned horizontally or at an angle to the ground, with the spider itself hanging with its back towards the ground at the center of the web.
Not only do these spiders provide a fascinating glimpse into the biodiversity of our natural world, but they also play an essential role in maintaining the balance of insect populations in the ecosystem. By familiarizing ourselves with these tiny creatures, we can better appreciate the often-overlooked wonders of nature that surround us.
Orchard Spider Identification
Orchard spiders (Leucauge venusta) are known for their vibrant colors. They exhibit:
- Green: A yellowish-green carapace with shiny emerald green highlights.
- Orange, Red, and Yellow: Reddish-orange triangular markings, orangish spots, and a red crescent on the abdomen.
- Black, Brown, and Dark Stripe: Presence of brown stripes on their legs and a dark stripe running across the carapace.
Size and Body Structure
The size and body structure of Orchard spiders are characterized by:
- Size: Small spiders, commonly found in Eastern U.S.
- Legs: Long and slender legs with brown stripes and trichobothria on their hind legs.
- Abdomen: Oval bodies with a distinctive pattern of colors.
|Feature||Orchard Spider||Other Spiders|
|Color||Green, orange, red, yellow, black, and brown||Varies|
|Body Structure||Oval bodies with distinctive markings||Varies|
|Legs||Long, slender with brown stripes and trichobothria on hind legs||Varies|
|Size||Small (common in Eastern U.S.)||Varies|
Habitat and Distribution
The Orchard Orbweaver (Leucauge argyrobapta) is commonly found in the eastern United States, including states like New York, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. They are also found in southern Canada and the Central US in states such as Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
- Habitat: Gardens, orchards, and other natural and semi-natural habitats with vegetation
Orchard Orbweavers have a wide distribution, extending into Central America. However, specific information about their distribution and habitat within Central America is limited.
Orchard Orbweaver spiders are also found in South American countries like Colombia. Their habitat preferences are similar to those in North and Central America, generally living in areas with vegetation.
|North America||Eastern US, Southern Canada, Central US|
|Central America||Limited information available|
|South America||Colombia and likely other countries with similar vegetation|
Orchard Orbweaver distribution and habitat by region.
Behavior and Ecology
Orchard spiders (Leucauge argyrobapta) belong to the family Tetragnathidae and are known for their distinctive web building skills. They create circular, horizontal, or angled webs close to the ground with a unique zig-zag pattern in the middle ^(source)^. Orchard spiders often build their webs in bushes or other low vegetation.
- Web type: Orb-weaver
- Habitat: Bushes, low vegetation
These spiders primarily feed on insects caught in their webs. Some examples of their common prey include:
- Small beetles
Using their spinnerets, they wrap their captured prey in silk before consuming it.
Predators and Threats
Orchard spiders must watch out for various predators in their natural habitat, such as:
- Larger spiders
- Insect predators (e.g., praying mantises, wasps)
These delicate orb weavers also face threats like habitat destruction and human interference.
|Orchard Spider||Other Orb Weavers|
|Web Building||Horizontal or angled webs with zig-zag patterns||Usually build vertical webs without zig-zag patterns|
|Distribution||Primarily in the eastern United States ^(source)^||Widespread across a variety of regions and habitats|
|Identification||Bright green-yellow color, delicate appearance||Various sizes, colors, and patterns|
In summary, orchard spiders display unique web-building behavior. Their habitats are often found in bushes or low vegetation and feed on insects caught in their webs. These spiders encounter various predators in their ecosystem and must also cope with human threats.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
The mating process of the orchard orbweaver involves a unique and fascinating courtship. Males attract females by creating vibrating signals on the web. These vibrations are carefully crafted to prevent females from mistaking them as prey.
- Vibrating signals: Crucial for communication
- Purpose: To avoid being mistaken as prey and to attract females
Once mating is successful, female orchard orbweavers create protective egg sacs. These sacs are made of silk and can contain hundreds of eggs.
- Female role: Create egg sacs
- Egg sac material: Silk
- Contents: Hundreds of eggs
After hatching, spiderlings of the orchard orbweaver go through a series of molts before reaching adulthood. During this time, they develop their distinct and colorful appearance.
- Life stage: Spiderlings hatch from eggs
- Development: Series of molts
- Outcome: Distinct and colorful adult appearance
|Reproduction method||Egg sacs|
|Coloration||Distinct and colorful|
|Mating behavior||Vibrating signals on the web|
- Effective courtship method
- Protective egg sacs
- Distinct and colorful appearance
- Vulnerable to predators during molting stages
By understanding the reproduction and life cycle of the orchard orbweaver, one can appreciate the intricate and fascinating world of these small yet captivating spiders.
Classification and Nomenclature
Orchard spiders belong to the scientific classification:
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Chelicerata
- Class: Arachnida
- Order: Araneae
- Infraorder: Araneomorphae
- Family: Tetragnathidae
- Genus: Leucauge
These spiders are part of the Araneomorphae infraorder, also known as the “true spiders.” Within the Tetragnathidae family, the Orchard Spider genus is Leucauge.
Synonyms and Common Names
Orchard spiders are scientifically referred to as Leucauge argyrobapta or Leucauge venusta. They are commonly called Orchard Orbweavers or Venusta Orchard Spiders.
Here are some key characteristics of Orchard spiders:
- Delicate and colorful appearance
- Circular webs usually positioned horizontally
- Generally found in gardens and orchards
Examples of Orchard spider species include Leucauge argyrobapta and Leucauge venusta, both of which are common in the eastern U.S. These spiders are known for their attractive appearance and are frequently found in orchards and gardens.
The Orchard Spider can be compared to another spider in the same family: Argiope aurantia, also known as Yellow Garden Spider. Here’s a comparison table of their features:
|Feature||Orchard Spider (Leucauge spp.)||Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia)|
|Web Shape||Circular, horizontal||Orb-shaped, vertical|
|Web Size||Small, delicate||Large, showy|
|Common Habitat||Orchards and gardens||Various habitats, including gardens|
|Color & Appearance||Yellowish-green, elongated||Black and yellow, bold pattern|
|Web Pattern||Minimal additional decoration||Zig-zag pattern or “writing”|
In summary, Orchard spiders are colorful Araneomorphae that belong to the Tetragnathidae family and the Leucauge genus. They are commonly found in orchards and gardens, and their scientific names are Leucauge argyrobapta or Leucauge venusta.
Orchard Spider Bites and Prevention
Severity of Bites
Orchard spiders (Leucauge argyrobapta) are common spiders found in the eastern United States. Their bites are rare and very mild, as they are not aggressive towards humans.
Comparing with other spider bites, such as the black widow spider, orchard spider bites are less severe. Here’s a comparison table:
First Aid and Treatment
In the case of an orchard spider bite, first aid and treatment can be quite simple:
- Clean the bite area with soap and water
- Apply a cold pack or ice wrapped in a cloth to reduce swelling
To reduce the chances of getting bitten by an orchard spider or other spiders, follow these prevention steps:
- Keep your surroundings clean and free of spider webs
- Wear gloves and long sleeves when moving items in sheds or other spaces where spiders may hide
- Regularly inspect and clean chelicerae, fangs, or any area where spiders may be present
Remember, orchard spider bites are not dangerous, and their prevention is mostly about keeping your environment clean and being cautious when handling objects in potential hiding spots.
Orchard Spider in Popular Culture and Science
Charles Darwin’s Observations
Charles Darwin observed the Orchard Spider (Leucauge argyrobapta) during his travels. He was fascinated by its intricate web designs, specifically the sticky spirals and barrier web that make up the orb. Darwin even noted the spider’s shiny appearance, which contributes to its unique look.
Modern research focuses on various aspects of the Orchard Spider, such as its nomenclature and relationship to other orbweaver spiders. Here are a few attributes of interest:
- Part of the Leucauge genus
- Known for their colorful, reflective appearance
- Conspicuous presence in their environment
Orchard Spiders possess unique eye structures. They have a total of eight eyes, which can provide a wider range of vision.
|Feature||Orchard Spider||Other Orbweaver Spiders|
|Web structure||Sticky spirals and barrier web||Differing types of orb webs|
|Distinctive Features||Shiny appearance, colorful||Varies by species|
Some pros and cons of the Orchard Spider to consider:
- Contributes to controlling insect populations
- Unique, intricate web designs
- Web structure might be less resilient compared to stronger orb weaver webs
- Shiny appearance may attract predators
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 Spider
Can you help me id this spider? They are everywhere and are so beautiful.
This is an Orchard Spider in the genus Leucauge. They are in the Family Tetragnathidae, the Large-Jawed Orb Weavers.
Letter 2 – Orchard Spider
Tiny spider with jeweled green abdomen
Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 6:51 AM
I was taking pictures of two mating moths on my front door this morning when I saw this beautiful but tiny spider. The body can’t be more than 1/4″ with it’s legs it still wouldn’t be an inch. It was small and delicate but had such a great green color on its abdomen. Can you help me identify it?
What a beautiful spider, but sadly, we don’t know what species it is. We suspect this is a hunting spider that does not spin a web. It has certain similarities to both Lynx Spiders in the family Oxyopidae and Jumping Spiders in the family Salticidae. Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide an identification.
Update June 11, 2014: Orchard Spider
Thanks to a comment that just arrived, we took a closer look and we agree that this is an Orchard Spider.
Letter 3 – Orchard Spider
I do not love bugs but I love your site – in a weird kind of way! I took this photo today of what I think is an Orchard Spider? I couldn’t see it from the back without disturbing it and not knowing which way it would run I decided it best to leave it alone! Is it an Orchard Spider?
You are absolutely correct. This is an Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta. These colorful spiders are in the Long-Jawed Orbweaver family Tetragnathidae.
Letter 4 – Orchard Spider
Smiley Face Spider?
This spider was living in a beautiful web for about two weeks in April in the bushes near my front door in central Florida. Does it have another more scientific name — other than what I’ve dubbed it — Smiley Face Spider ? I’ve included a pic of the web in case that helps identify it. Thank you.
This is a wonderful photo of an Orchard Spider in the genus Venusta.
Letter 5 – Orchard Spider
Spider from Florida
I took this spider picture at the Fort Pierce Inlet State Park on 3/24/08 on the Coastal Hammock Trail. I have been unable to determine what kind of spider it is. Can someone help me? Thanks,
Your spider is an Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta, a beautiful and harmless species.
Letter 6 – Orchard Spider
Leucauge venusta photo
I went through your site and indentified my little spider friend,
Leucauga venusta. Thank you. This was taken next to a house wall in
central Florida in late August. Red spots.
Thank you for your beautiful image of an Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta.
Letter 7 – Orchard Spider
big, very interesting spider
Great site…I’ve already learned alot, and didn’t think I would be sending you a picture. We found this spider making a home next to our home on Long Island, NY. We live in a rather wooded area and is located in a shady corner near our garbage cans and Hosta plants. The backdrop of this photo is our home shingle. Please check out the attached picture and let us know if the silver bulge is an egg sack and if it is dangerous.
Thanks so much!
Amy and Chris
Hi Amy and Chris,
Beautiful photo of an Orchard Spider in the genus Leucauge, probably species venusta. The silver bulge is the abdomen. It is not dangerous.
Letter 8 – Orchard Spider
Adorable green spider
I made friends with a fascinating little green and brown spider who’d shacked up in my lampshade. I took a few photos, they’re attached. We’re based in Evanston, Illinois, outside Chicago. Any idea what she is?
This is an Orchard Spider in the genus Leucauge.
Letter 9 – Orchard Spider
Subject: Green and yellow spider in Houston
Location: Houston, Texas
October 15, 2016 2:51 pm
I’ve never seen this one in my yard before and I’ve been here 9 years in Houston.
This pretty spider is commonly called an Orchard Spider.
Letter 10 – Orchard Spider
Subject: shiny silver spider – not a garden spider
Location: Cincinnati, OH
July 5, 2017 2:51 pm
Hi. My son and I found today small spider, a bit smaller than a pencil eraser, that was very iridescent silver. It had built a between the deck railing and a nearby tall weed, which had trapped several small insects already. The part of the web on which the bugs were caught was roughly parallel to the ground, but there seemed to be a lot of silk in multiple directions around it, making the overall structure 3-dimensional rather than two. When the spider noticed us, it ran up a strand to the deck railing, but at other times it rested on the underside of the main web. I’ve attached a photo with flash, and one without, but neither seems to capture how silver it appears. I was not able to get my phone to focus on the web, but there is no zigzag structure, so I’m pretty sure it’s not a garden spider.Thanks in advance!
Signature: Todd Gessner
This sure looks like a harmless Orchard Spider to us. BugGuide does not discuss the form of the web, but we have seen the web of an Orchard Spider in Northeast Ohio and it looks as you describe it.
Letter 11 – Orchard Spider
Subject: Spider living in my bushes
Geographic location of the bug: Georgia, USA
Time: 11:00 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I fiund this spider while trimming my hedges today. I let it stay there to live but I’m curious as to what kind of spider it is.
How you want your letter signed: Elle
This little beauty looks to us like an Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta, and you may compare your image to this BugGuide image. According to BugGuide, the habitat is “Woodlands. Builds in low shrubs or small trees, close to the ground.”
Letter 12 – Orchard Spider
Subject: Orchard Spider?
Geographic location of the bug: Amesbury Massachusetts
Time: 08:45 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I am a Huge bug fan! I am a commercial photographer by day and a wildlife and macro photog for fun. I cam across this little one in the garden last night and I had never seen colors on a spider like that..just wanted to see if it in fact was a Red and Green Orchard Spider.
So happy to have found your site! It is AWESOME!
How you want your letter signed: Many Thanks!! Caroline
You are correct. This is indeed an Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta, and your image is positively gorgeous. We hope you consider sending other high quality images of the insects and bugs you find.
Letter 13 – Orchard Spider from Mexico
Subject: Rorshach-back spider with colored dots on its belly
Location: Tampico, Mexico
December 13, 2012 1:00 pm
I found this one in my in-laws’ garden. I instantly took a picture of it and later showed it to my wife. She thought I should’ve killed it because it was too pretty to be harmless.
I also believe that it is a nice-looking arachnid, but I refused to kill it. However, I don’t know if it venomous or not, and since we live in the north-eastern coast of Mexico and the region is suited for black widows, I feared. any clues on this guy?
This spider greatly resembles the Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta, which you can find pictured on BugGuide. If it is not the same species, we are fully confident it is in the same genus. Though it has venom, it is considered a harmless species that uses its venom on prey, not on humans. We believe this is a female.