Orchard Spider: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell

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

Distinctive Colors

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

North America

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

Central America

Orchard Orbweavers have a wide distribution, extending into Central America. However, specific information about their distribution and habitat within Central America is limited.

South America

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.

Region Distribution
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

Web Building

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

Feeding Habits

These spiders primarily feed on insects caught in their webs. Some examples of their common prey include:

  • Flies
  • Mosquitoes
  • 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:

  • Birds
  • 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

Mating Process

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

Egg Sacs

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

Spiderlings

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
Features Orchard Orbweaver
Reproduction method Egg sacs
Adult size Small
Coloration Distinct and colorful
Mating behavior Vibrating signals on the web
Primary prey Insects

Pros

  • Effective courtship method
  • Protective egg sacs
  • Distinct and colorful appearance

Cons

  • 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

Taxonomy

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:

Spider Bite Severity
Orchard Spider Mild
Black Widow Severe

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

Prevention

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

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.

Comparison Table:

Feature Orchard Spider Other Orbweaver Spiders
Genus Leucauge Various
Eye Count 8 8
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:

Pros:

  • Contributes to controlling insect populations
  • Unique, intricate web designs

Cons:

  • Web structure might be less resilient compared to stronger orb weaver webs
  • Shiny appearance may attract predators

Reader Emails

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

Letter 1 – Orchard Spider

 

Spider Id
Can you help me id this spider? They are everywhere and are so beautiful.
Maureen
Jacksonville, Florida

Hi Maureen,
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?
Resa
Atlanta, GA

Unknown Spider
Orchard Spider

Hi Resa,
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

 

Orchard Spider?
Hi!
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?
Thanks!
Carollee
Daphne, AL

Hi Carollee,
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.
BarbaraLee P.

Hi BarbaraLee,
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,
Sue

Hi Sue,
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.
Carl

Thank you for your beautiful image of an Orchard Spider, Leucauge venusta.

Letter 7 – Orchard Spider

 

big, very interesting spider
Hey Bugman!
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?
Kerry Lannert

Hi Kerry,
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.
Signature: Aaron

Orchard Spider
Orchard Spider

Dear Aaron,
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!
Todd Gessner
Cincinnati, OH
Signature: Todd Gessner

Orchard Spider

Dear Todd,
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
Date: 05/09/2019
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

Orchard Spider

Dear 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
Date: 06/08/2021
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

Orchard Spider

Dear 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
Hello Daniel!
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?
Signature: Rexnatus

Orchard Spider

Dear Rexnatus,
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.

Orchard Spider

 

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts

10 thoughts on “Orchard Spider: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell”

  1. I know this spider is from the US, but it looks like something I have seen here in Australia. The legs, in particular, look like Leucage dromedaria, in the family Tetraganathidae, although the body is a different colour.

    Reply
  2. i was in japan for a week or two earlier last year, and i saw this spider, or something very similar to it just about everywhere.
    I was in a bus, looking out the window and i was able to count about seventeen of them, in less than 5 minutes, on passing tree.
    it’s probably not the exact same spider though, because you said yours is small. the one i saw i was able to spot one up a light post from 20-30 feet away.

    Reply
  3. I would wager heavily on it being a Leucauge venusta; the color variation on the abdomen is pretty extreme, but they all have that shield-shaped, striped, yellowish cephalothorax and have spotted, sparsely haired leg joints. As well as, of course, the intense metallic coloration on both sides of the abdomen.

    Reply
  4. I’ve been trying to find out information on this type of spider but every time I click on a new person asking the same question the only reply is ” thank you for not killing it”. Or ” yes we do read every entry”. I visited 4 already with the same reply and no information weather or not it’s harmful to my kids playing in the back yard.
    Please let me know if:
    1. Is it poisonous?
    2. Where is it most common?
    3. How big do they grow?
    Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Are orchid spiders poisonous? I live in Tampa Florida and I have so many of them, at least I believe that is what they are… please let me know. Thank you

    Reply
    • Orchid Spiders like most spiders are venomous. The venom is not considered dangerous to human. In the unlikely event that a person is bitten, we would say that chances are very high that a bite would result in not much more than local swelling, redness and itchiness.

      Reply
  6. We have these around our pecan orchard and yard, I was recently bitten by 1 and it hurt for a couple of hours, afterwards I had a headache and stomach ache.I was fine before getting the bite but it was a day 1 1/2 later before I felt ok..

    Reply

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