Orchard Weaver Spider Poisonous? Debunking the Myths

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Orchard orbweaver spiders, scientifically known as Leucauge argyrobapta and Leucauge venusta, are small, attractive spiders that are quite common in the eastern United States. These spiders are known for their distinctive, colorful appearance and their ability to spin intricate orb-shaped webs in various environments, including orchards and gardens.

While some people might worry about the potential danger posed by these spiders, it’s important to note that orchard orbweavers are not considered venomous to humans. They do have venom glands, but their venom is primarily used for subduing their insect prey, not posing a threat to people. This makes encounters with orchard orbweavers generally safe and non-threatening.

Orchard Weaver Spider Overview

Physical Description

The Orchard Weaver Spider, also known as Leucauge argyrobapta, is an attractive small spider. They can be found in the eastern US and are part of the Arachnida class. This spider has a yellowish-green cephalothorax with brown stripes on the sides. The abdomen is somewhat elongated.

Characteristic Features

  • Delicate appearance
  • Colorful body
  • Creates horizontal or angled circular webs
  • Hangs in the middle of its web, back to the ground

Size

Orchard Weaver Spiders are small in size. Their body length is typically around half an inch.

Example of an Orchard Weaver Spider compared to a familiar object:

  • Roughly the size of a pencil eraser

Comparison table between Orchard Weaver Spider and a similar species, the Jumping Spider:

Feature Orchard Weaver Spider Jumping Spider
Size Small (~0.5 inches) Small (~0.3-0.8 inches)
Web Horizontal or angled circular webs No web, uses silk for safety line and nests
Behavior Hangs in the middle of its web Jumps to capture prey

Identification and Distribution

Habitat

The orchard orbweaver (Leucauge venusta) is a delicate and colorful spider belonging to the family Tetragnathidae. They are commonly found in:

  • Gardens
  • Woodlands
  • Bushy areas

Distribution

Orchard orbweavers have a wide distribution across North America, covering areas such as:

  • Eastern United States
  • Southern Canada
  • Mexico
  • Central America

Their range extends as far north as New York in the United States and reaches even into some parts of Canada.

Identification features:

  • Yellowish-green carapace
  • Brown stripes on the sides
  • Elongated abdomen
  • Delicate, circular webs (usually positioned horizontally or at an angle to the ground)
Orchard Orbweaver (Leucauge venusta) Other Tetragnathidae Spiders
Family Tetragnathidae Tetragnathidae
Habitat Gardens, woodlands, bushy areas Various environments
Web Circular, horizontal or angled Different web shapes
Location Eastern US, Canada, Mexico, Central America North and Central America

In conclusion, the orchard orbweaver is a distinctive spider found predominantly in North America, specifically the eastern United States, southern Canada, Mexico, and Central America. Its unique habitat and appearance make it easy to identify among the members of the Tetragnathidae family.

Behavior and Diet

The Web

Orchard orbweaver spiders construct delicate, circular webs. These webs typically have a horizontal or angled orientation with respect to the ground. The spider hangs in the middle of the web with its back facing the ground 1. Some examples of orb-weaver web lengths include:

  • Long webs: Over 1 meter across 2
  • Short webs: Smaller, for catching smaller insects

Prey

Orchard orbweavers primarily prey on flying insects. Their choice of prey includes:

  • Mosquitoes
  • Flies
  • Wasps
  • Moths
  • Beetles

Occasionally, they might also capture other small insects or even small birds in their webs.

Orchard Spider Diet

These spiders play a vital role in controlling insect populations within their habitat. Their diet consists of the insects caught in their webs. Some key features of an orchard orbweaver’s diet include:

  • Predominantly flying insects
  • Contributes to natural pest control
  • Keeps their surroundings balanced in terms of insect populations

Orchard Weaver Spider Life Cycle

Eggs

The female Leucauge spider lays eggs, typically in a sheltered area. The eggs are enclosed in a silken sac which protects them until they hatch.

Spiderlings

Once hatched, the tiny spiderlings emerge from the eggs and begin to grow. They molt several times as they increase in size, gradually resembling the adult spiders and becoming more independent.

Lifespan

Males:

  • Shorter lifespan than females
  • Reach adulthood, mate, then die

Females:

  • Longer lifespan than males
  • Lay eggs repeatedly throughout their life
Males Females
Lifespan Shorter Longer
Reproduction Mate once Lay eggs repeatedly

In summary, Orchard weaver spiders go through three main life stages: eggs, spiderlings, and adulthood. Females have a longer lifespan than males, and are responsible for laying eggs and giving birth to new generations of spiders.

Venom and Potential Dangers

Bite

Orchard orbweavers are not aggressive spiders and their bites are generally rare. If the spider happens to bite, it might cause mild pain, swelling, or numbness, but it’s not considered medically significant. For example:

  • Orchard orbweaver bites: mild pain, swelling, numbness
  • Black widow bites: severe pain, muscle cramps, nausea

Venom

The venom of orchard orbweavers (Leucauge venusta) is primarily used for prey capture and defense. Compared to other venoms, such as the ones from black widows and brown recluses, orchard orbweaver venom is relatively harmless to humans. See the comparison table below:

Spider Venom Potency Dangerous to Humans?
Orchard Weaver Low No
Black Widow High Yes
Brown Recluse High Yes

Medical Implications

Being bitten by an orchard orbweaver is generally harmless and may require no medical intervention. However, some people might experience allergic reactions to the bite. If you suspect an allergy, seek medical attention. Important aspects to consider:

  • Allergies: Seek medical help if needed
  • No dangerous venom: No severe complications are expected

In summary, orchard orbweaver spiders have low-potency venom, which does not pose significant risks to humans. Their bites are usually harmless, and while some allergic reactions may occur, these spiders are far less dangerous than black widows or brown recluses.

Interesting Facts and Additional Information

Quick Facts

  • Species name: Leucauge argyrobapta
  • Synonym: L. venusta
  • Family: Long-jawed orb weaver spiders
  • Discovery: Discovered by Adam White in 1841
  • Range: Mainly in South America (Colombia, Brazil, and Paris)

The Leucauge argyrobapta, also known as the Orchard orbweaver, is a small and attractive spider which is not considered dangerous to humans. Its bite is mild, and symptoms can include nausea, but this occurs only in rare cases1.

Historical Background

The Orchard orbweaver was first discovered by Adam White in 1841. The World Spider Catalog recognizes two species, Leucauge argyrobapta and L. venusta, which are collectively considered some of the most common spiders in the eastern U.S.2. Charles Darwin, on his voyage to South America, collected many specimens of these spiders3.

Scientific Taxonomy

Scientific Classification Name
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Arthropoda
Class Arachnida
Order Araneae
Family Tetragnathidae
Genus Leucauge
Species L. argyrobapta

Physical Characteristics

  • Abdomen: Elongated and often colorful with spots
  • Carapace: Rounded and often shiny
  • Fangs: Orbweavers are equipped with fangs to inject venom into their prey, but this venom is mild and not dangerous to humans

Leucauge argyrobapta belongs to the family Tetragnathidae, commonly known as long-jawed orb weavers, and is considered part of the orb-weaver spider group. It shares its habitat with other orbweaver species such as the Hormiga Ballesteros. They are mostly found in forests across Colombia, Brazil, and even Paris4.

As predators, these spiders rely on their webs to catch prey. They are not considered dangerous to humans, making them a fascinating addition to the ecosystems where they reside5. The American Arachnological Society’s Committee on Common Names of Arachnids recognizes the name “orchard orbweaver” for this species6.

Footnotes

  1. https://education.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/orchard-orbweaver 2

  2. https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/spiders/tropical_orb_weaver.htm 2

  3. Levi, H.W. (1980). The Orb-Weaver Genera Argiope, Gea, and Neogea from the Western Pacific Region (Araneae: Araneidae, Argiopinae). Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Harvard University.

  4. Kaston, B.J. (1978). How to know the spiders. 3rd ed. Dubuque, Iowa: W.C. Brown Co.

  5. Ballesteros, J.A. & Hormiga, G. (2016). A New Species of the Spider Genus Leucauge (Araneae: Tetragnathidae) from Colombia, with A Molecular Phylogeny of the Group. Zootaxa, 4184(2).

  6. American Arachnological Society. (2003). Committee on Common Names of Arachnids. Accessed on June 5, 2023.

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

 

Venusta Orchard Spider (I think)
Location: Central Florida
August 9, 2011 9:53 am
2 Different views (ventral & dorsal) of the same spider.
Signature: Kathy

Orchard Spider

I didn’t really need an ID. I just wanted to know how the website worked as far as uploading photos. I don’t see the 2 photos I uploaded and was just wondering how it worked.
I guess the answer is that you get so many submissions that you can’t get to all of them! LoL
Thanks anyway!
Kathy Mayhew

Orchard Spider

Hi Kathy,
Your spider is definitely one of the Orchard Spiders in the genus
Leucauge, and we believe it is Leucauge venusta even though there is more magenta in the spider’s body than we generally see.  We closely monitor the content on our site and our editorial staff posts all selected identification requests.  We do not allow contributors to post directly, except in the comment section, but even there we can remove any inappropriate content.  Though we do not consider ourselves to be a children’s website, we do take pride in being child friendly, both in our content and in our advertising.  We do not allow adult ads despite that they are quite common on television.  Our Facebook pages and Twitter pages are more of an open forum, and we do not monitor that content as closely.  That is an excellent place to get the opinions of our readership as opposed to the opinions of our editorial staff.

Letter 2 – Orchard Spider

 

spider
Dear Bugman,
Thank you for your site. We have lots of spiny orb spiders in south Texas and have wondered what they were. The pictures sent in were great. My sister sent the attached pictures and wonders what this one is. Can you help. Zooming in shows a green mottled back and red belly. It was attached to her house. Thanks again,
Barbara Heck

Hi Barbara,
This is an Orchard Spider in the genus Leucauge. One has to wonder how you ever managed to notice her in the web so high from the ground.

Letter 3 – Orchard Spider

 

Subject: Venusta Orchard Spider ?
Location: Boston, MA
June 20, 2012 12:55 pm
Is this a Venusta Orchard Spider? My 9yo daughter and I have never seen one. Great looking little guy.
Not sure if you already have pics of this but thought it may be worth sharing.
Signature: Venusta Orchard Spider ? – found by Emma

Orchard Spider

Hi Emma,
Your identification of an Orchard Spider in the genus
Venusta is correct.  They are beautiful spiders with colorful markings.

Letter 4 – Orchard Spider

 

Subject: gorgeous and tiny
Location: NJ, woodland area
June 17, 2013 1:23 pm
I was taking Macro pictures of flowers after the rain today in North Central NJ. I noticed movement on one of the tiny flowers. I was an even tinier spider. I was able to get an okay shot, enough I think for someone who knows their stuff to identify it. Later I went back and it was busy making a web between the tow plants. The plants are small, Pyrolas, ”wintergreens” the flowers are not much more than a quarter inch across to give you perspective on size.
Signature: Karen Smith

Orchard Spider
Orchard Spider

Dear Karen,
This is an Orchard Spider,
Leucauge venusta, or a closely related species.  They truly are gemlike spiders.

Letter 5 – Orchard Spider

 

Subject: Orchard Spider
Location: Southeast Tennessee, Cumberland Plateau
June 17, 2013 9:58 am
From other photos, I believe that this spider who has recently taken up residence near our back porch is an Orchard Spider. In its orb web, I was able to get photos both from above and below.
Thanks for your great resource!
Signature: Bob

Orchard Spider
Orchard Spider

Hi Bob,
In our opinion, your identification of an Orchard Spider,
Leucauge venusta, is correct.  Thanks for sending your wonderful photos of the spider and its web.

Orchard Spider
Orchard Spider

Letter 6 – Orchard Spider

 

Subject: Orchard Spider?
Location: Chattanooga, TN
August 7, 2014 6:01 am
Hi!
I was wondering if this is an orchard spider. I first noticed it outside my front door and it was so tiny I couldn’t even get a picture of it. It was there for a couple of weeks, and was finally big enough to get a picture of if I zoomed in on it. It was still pretty small though. I believe it got blown away by a storm we had. I have just never seen anything like this spider and how shiny it was. I thought it was just beautiful and was sad to see it gone.
Signature: Dawn A

Orchard Spider
Orchard Spider

Dear Dawn A,
Just like the Eensy Weensy Spider of nursery rhyme fame, we believe the storm has merely washed your Orchard Spider to some other location in the garden.  Your identification of this beautiful and harmless spider is absolutely correct.  Some individuals have more orange markings than others.

Letter 7 – Orchard Spider

 

Subject: Spider
Location: Houston, TX
November 3, 2015 8:31 pm
Can you please tell me what kind of spider this is in the photograph? We saw him (her?) at Jesse H. Jones Park in Houston, TX in October of this year. I took the photos.
Thank you very much!
Signature: Rick

Orchard Spider
Orchard Spider

Dear Rick,
This jewel-like little beauty is an Orchard Spider,
Leucauge venusta, one of the harmless Long-Jawed Orbweavers in the family Tetragnathidae.

Letter 8 – Orchard Spider

 

Subject: South West Florida Spider
Location: South West Florida
April 10, 2016 7:22 pm
Could you please help me identify this spider.
I found it while walking through the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in South West Florida.
I thank you for your help
Signature: Brenda Kazan

Orchard Spider
Orchard Spider

Dear Brenda,
This little beauty is a harmless Orchard Spider,
Leucauge venusta.

Letter 9 – Orchard Spider

 

Subject: Silver hipster spider w/ arrow-like pattern
Location: Woodstock, GA
July 2, 2016 9:12 am
Hi WTB, I have looked through your site for this hipster spider, and can’t find it. I have found several of these all around our backyard, near our garden, on the side of our house… It’s super shiny silver w/ 2 tiny goldfish stripes going along the hipster black “arrow” like pattern down its back. Black legs. They are small (see next to dime)… Any idea what it is?
Signature: Kim in GA

Orchard Spider
Orchard Spider

Dear Kim,
You can verify the identity of this Orchard Spider,
Leucauge venusta, by comparing the “hipster black ‘arrow'” pattern to this close-up image on BugGuide.  It is described on BugGuide as having:  “Slightly elongated abdomen marked with silver, yellow, black, green, and bright orange or pink spots. Spins its web at an angle and hangs in the center.  Cephalothorax yellowish green, striped with brown along sides. Abdomen silvery above with dark stripes; sides yellow with red spot near tip, and red spot underneath.”

Authors

  • 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
Tags: Orchard Spider

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