Spiny Orb Weaver Spider Bite: Is it Poisonous? Find Out Now!

Spiny orb-weaver spiders are fascinating creatures that often capture our attention because of their vibrant colors and unique shapes. As you encounter these tiny architects in your garden or near your home, it’s natural to wonder if their bites are poisonous.

While bites from spiny orb-weaver spiders may cause some discomfort, they are generally not considered dangerous to humans. The symptoms from a bite can include itching, rash, or localized pain, but these effects are typically mild and short-lived. So, while their appearance may be intimidating, there’s no need to fear these beneficial arachnids as they help keep other insect populations in check.

Overview of Spiny Orb-Weaver Spiders

Spiny orb-weaver spiders are a fascinating group of arachnids belonging to the family Araneidae. They come in various shapes, patterns, and colors. One of the most well-known species is Gasteracantha cancriformis or the spiny-backed orb-weaver. You might also have heard of it as the jewel spider.

These spiders are known for their unique appearances and intricate webs. They have a habit of incorporating their own body shape and patterns into their web designs. For example:

  • Some species have spines protruding from their abdomens
  • Others may have a crab-like shape or jewel-like patterns on their bodies

When it comes to the bite of a spiny orb-weaver spider, you might be concerned about its potential toxicity. In general, orb-weaver spiders are not considered dangerous to humans. Their venom is usually harmless, and their bites may only cause mild irritation or discomfort.

Here are some key features of spiny orb-weaver spiders to remember:

  • Belong to the family Araneidae
  • Known for their unique body shapes and patterns
  • Not considered dangerous to humans

As you encounter different species of spiny orb-weaver spiders, it’s important to remember that their appearance can vary widely. Comparing the features of a few common species can be helpful in identifying the spiders you may come across. Here’s a comparison table to guide you:

Species Shape Colors/Patterns
G. cancriformis Crab-like, spiny White, orange, or yellow with red markings
Spiny-bellied orb weaver Oval abdomen with black tubercles White and black, or yellowish and brown-black mottled
White micrathena Oval abdomen with short tubercles White abdomen with a few distinct black markings

In conclusion, spiny orb-weaver spiders are a diverse group with unique appearances, but their bites are generally not a cause for concern.

Appearance and Identification

Color and Pattern

The spiny orb-weaver spider is known for its distinctive appearance. It can typically be identified by its vibrant colors and unique patterns. For example, their abdomen is usually black with contrasting spots of yellow or white, giving it a striking look. In addition, their body is covered in spines or humps that can vary in size and location, providing them with their “spiny” moniker.

Usually, you might find these spiders in various environments such as gardens and wooded areas. It’s helpful to familiarize yourself with some pictures to better identify them in your surroundings.

Size and Shape

Spiny orb-weaver spiders exhibit considerable differences in size and shape. Their large and rounded abdomen is one of their most defining features. Some key characteristics to assist with identification include:

  • A large, bulbous abdomen often overlapping a bit with the cephalothorax
  • Abdomen covered with spines or humps
  • Shorter third pair of legs compared to the other legs

Here’s a comparison table detailing the features of a spiny orb-weaver spider:

Feature Spiny Orb-Weaver Spider
Abdomen Color Black with yellow or white spots
Abdomen Shape Large, rounded, and overlapping cephalothorax
Spines/Humps Present on the abdomen
Size of Third Pair of Legs About half as long as the other legs

By observing these features, you can accurately identify a spiny orb-weaver spider and distinguish it from other spider species.

Distribution and Habitat

Spiny orb weaver spiders can be found in various parts of the world, including North America, Central America, Asia, Africa, Australia, India, and Hawaii. They are typically found in forests and wooded areas, where they build their webs among trees and shrubs to catch flying insects.

The distribution of these spiders varies depending on the specific species. For example, the red spiny orb weaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis) is commonly found in the southeastern United States, particularly Florida, as well as in parts of Central America.

On the other hand, the spined micrathena (Micrathena gracilis) is more widespread throughout the United States, including in dense forests and woodlands. Some other species of spiny orb weavers can also be found in Asia, Africa, and Australia, showcasing their adaptability to various habitats.

As part of their habitat, they usually prefer:

  • Warm and humid environments
  • Places with an abundance of flying insects for food
  • Tree and shrub-rich areas for web construction

Remember that while you may encounter spiny orb weaver spiders in many different regions, the specific species you’ll find will depend on the local environment and climate. In general, keep an eye out for their distinctive webs and spiny abdomens when exploring wooded areas and forests.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Spiny orb-weaver spiders are fascinating creatures with distinctive behaviors. They mainly reside in gardens and thrive during the warm months, from spring to early fall.

These spiders create impressive orb-shaped webs to catch their prey, which primarily consists of insects like flies, mosquitoes, and moths. They construct these webs using their silk to trap and immobilize their next meal.

Spiny orb-weavers are active during the night, which is when they build their webs and hunt for prey. As nocturnal hunters, they rely on their webs to entangle and incapacitate their victims.

One important aspect to note about these spiders is their venom. While orb-weaver spiders produce venom to subdue their prey, their bites are generally harmless to humans. They are not considered to be aggressive spiders and tend to only bite as a last resort in self-defense.

So, when you encounter a spiny orb-weaver spider in your garden, remember that they are helpful creatures that control insect populations and pose little threat to you. Simply observe and appreciate their unique lifestyle and web-spinning abilities.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Spiny orb-weaver spiders exhibit sexual dimorphism: females tend to be larger and more colorful than males. During reproduction, the male carefully approaches the female and pairs with her on the web.

Females lay their eggs in small, well-protected egg sacs. These sacs provide a safe environment for the eggs to develop. After the eggs hatch, the spiderlings stay inside the sac for a short period before venturing out on their own.

Throughout their life cycle, these spiders molt several times as they grow. The process involves shedding the old exoskeleton and growing a new one, allowing them to increase in size.

Keep in mind, spiny orb-weaver spiders are not harmful to humans, having venom that is not medically significant to us. Regardless, it’s best to admire these remarkable creatures from a distance, respecting their space and natural habitat.

The Spider’s Diet and Predators

The spiny orb weaver spider has a diet mainly composed of small insects. Some common prey for this spider include flies, moths, beetles, and mosquitoes. These spiders play a significant role in controlling the population of these pests in a garden setting.

You might notice that the spiny orb weaver is quite efficient in capturing their prey. They use their intricate webs to catch insects, and their spines serve as a defense mechanism against predators. Some common predators of this spider are birds, larger spiders like the crab spider, and even certain wasps.

A quick comparison between spiny orb weaver and its prey:

Spiny Orb Weaver Flies Moths Beetles Mosquitoes
Size Small to medium Small Small Small Small
Diet Insects Plant sap Plant sap Plant sap Blood
Main role in ecosystem Predator Pollinator Pollinator Pollinator Pest

The spiny orb weaver’s diet and its role as a predator make them quite beneficial to your garden. Their population control of pests might help keep your plants healthy and thriving.

Their Role in Ecosystem

Spiny orb weaver spiders play a vital role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem. These spiders help in controlling pests by catching and consuming various insects. As a result, they provide indirect benefits to your garden, citrus groves, and shrubs.

For instance, spiny orb weavers feed on insects like mosquitoes, flies, and plant pests such as aphids. These insects can harm your plants and transmit diseases, so having spiny orb weavers around can be advantageous. Here are some key roles these spiders play in the ecosystem:

  • Insect control: They reduce harmful insect populations by catching them in their webs and consuming them.
  • Pest management: Spiny orb weavers can be particularly beneficial in citrus groves, where they help control pests such as the Asian citrus psyllid.
  • Plant protection: In shrubs and other vegetation, their presence reduces the number of plant-eating insects, promoting healthy plant growth.

In conclusion, while the bite from a spiny orb weaver spider might be mildly painful, it’s essential to remember their crucial role in the ecosystem. They are beneficial creatures that help manage pests and protect plants in various environments, including gardens, citrus groves, and shrubs. So, rather than being fearful of them, it’s important to appreciate their contributions to a balanced ecosystem.

Interaction with Humans

Spiny orb-weaver spiders are generally harmless to humans. They might build their webs near homes and gardens, but they rarely cause problems for residents. In fact, these spiders can even be considered beneficial, as they help control insect populations by feeding on various pests.

If you come across a spiny orb-weaver spider, it’s best not to disturb them. They are not aggressive and usually won’t bite unless provoked or accidentally squeezed. A bite from this spider is not considered medically significant. The venom, if any, is not strong enough to pose a serious risk to humans.

However, if you do happen to get bitten, you can expect a reaction similar to that of a mosquito bite. Some symptoms you might experience include:

  • Redness around the bite area
  • Slight swelling
  • Itching or mild pain

To alleviate any discomfort, simply clean the bite area with soap and water, apply a cold pack, and take over-the-counter pain relievers or antihistamines as needed.

In conclusion, spiny orb-weaver spiders should not be feared by humans. They pose little threat to us and can even be beneficial in controlling pests in our surroundings.

Is the Spiny Orb-Weaver Spider Poisonous?

Comparing with Other Spiders

When you think of poisonous spiders, some infamous names like the black widow and the brown recluse may come to mind. However, the spiny orb-weaver spider is far less intimidating. These spiders are not considered venomous or dangerous to humans1. Unlike the black widow or the brown recluse, the spiny orb-weaver is non-aggressive, and will not bite unless provoked2.

Here’s a comparison table to give you a quick idea:

Spider Type Venomous Aggressive Bite Severity
Spiny Orb-Weaver No No Mild, if at all
Black Widow Yes Yes Severe
Brown Recluse Yes Yes Severe

The Spider Bite: What to Expect

In the rare case that a spiny orb-weaver spider bites you, it may cause mild pain and swelling3. The bite is mostly harmless, and severe symptoms such as numbness, nausea or difficulty breathing are extremely unlikely4. Male and female spiny orb-weaver spiders both have venom, but it’s too weak to cause harm to humans5.

Are Their Webs Dangerous?

Spiny orb-weaver spiders create intricate and beautiful webs, yet they pose no threat to you6. You may accidentally walk into one while you’re outdoors, but there are no dangers associated with touching their webs.

Remember to simply appreciate these tiny creatures and their elegant webs from a safe distance, and you’ll have little to worry about.

Footnotes

  1. Spiny Orb Weaver: A Common Spider in Landscapes

  2. Spinybacked Orbweaver- A Spider for Snowbirds

  3. Spiny Orbweavers (Micrathena Spiders)

  4. Spinybacked Orbweaver Spider: Gasteracantha cancriformis

  5. Same as 3

  6. Same as 4

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 – Two Spined Spider: New Zealand Spiny Orb Weaver

 

strange spider beetle thing
hello,
a couple of hours ago my family and i came across an odd looking bug, it is quite small only about a cm in size about three times the size of a ladybug. it has from what i can tell 8 legs, a red body, a black ‘shell’ like thing on its back, with two small white spike like things coming of the ‘shell’. it also has a yellow ring around the bottom of the ‘shell’ . the back of its ‘shell’ however is yellow, theres thin lines of red separating the yellow on the ‘shell’ from the black. if it helps we are in New Zealand. if you need a photo i could try to take one, although i’m not sure if we’ll still have it depending on how quickly you reply. just so you know i’m obviously looking for the name of it
thanks a bunch
Tim

Hi Tim,
What we know immediately is that this is a Spiny Orb Weaving Spider. We need to do some research to see if we can identify the species. A quick search revealed nothing. There are two genera of Spiny Orb Weavers in the U.S.: Micrathena and Gasteracantha. Try searching there and let us know what you find.

Update: (01/19/2007) New Zealand Spiny Orb Weaver ID…
Hi there!
I did some searching on Google and found a New Zealand museum site with your spiny orb weaver. It calls it a Two-spined spider (Poecilopachys australasiae) and has some basic info about it.
http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/ResearchAtTePapa/Research/NaturalEnvironment/InsectsSpidersAndSimilar/SpidersWeb/What/Pages/Twospined.aspx
Regards, Matthew

Wow Matthew,
Thanks so much for your quick ID.

Broken Links Fixed
Broken links on your site
December 28, 2010 4:53 pm
Hi,
You have a couple of links to Te Papa’s website on your website, thanks heaps for that! I have recently noticed in our logs that some of these are broken, so I thought I’d report them to you to enable you to fix them.
These broken links came from a data migration when we upgraded our website. We are really sorry about it.
These are the 3 pages with broken links:
http://whatsthatbug.com/2007/12/29/two-spined-spider-from-new-zealand/
http://whatsthatbug.com/2005/12/21/two-spined-spider-new-zealand-spiny-orb-weaver/
http://whatsthatbug.com/2007/01/17/spiny-orb-weaver-from-new-zealand/
The new address of the two-spine spider on our website is the following:
http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/ResearchAtTePapa/Research/NaturalEnvironment/InsectsSpidersAndSimilar/SpidersWeb/What/Pages/Twospined.aspx
Thanks a lot for linking to us again!
Kind regards,
Florence Liger, webmaster at Te Papa
Signature: Florence Liger

Letter 2 – Spiny Orb Weaver from New Zealand

 

Is This A Spiny Orb Weaver
Dear Bugman
Can you help? I found this spider in my garden in Hamilton New Zealand on a Grisalenia plant. This spider is about the size of your small finger nail. I think it could be a Spiny Orb Weaver. Is this a native to New Zealand? Thanks
Tony

Hi Tony,
Back in December of 2005 we received a photo of this species also from New Zealand. We identified it as a Spiny Orb Weaver, but never identified the species. We tried to get a species again now, but once again, with no luck. Perhaps one of our readers can provide a more accurate species identification.

Update: (01/19/2007) New Zealand Spiny Orb Weaver ID…
Hi there!
I did some searching on Google and found a New Zealand museum site with your spiny orb weaver. It calls it a Two-spined spider (Poecilopachys australasiae) and has some basic info about it.
http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/ResearchAtTePapa/Research/NaturalEnvironment/InsectsSpidersAndSimilar/SpidersWeb/What/Pages/Twospined.aspx
Regards, Matthew

Wow Matthew,
Thanks so much for your quick ID.

Broken Links Fixed
Broken links on your site
December 28, 2010 4:53 pm
Hi,
You have a couple of links to Te Papa’s website on your website, thanks heaps for that! I have recently noticed in our logs that some of these are broken, so I thought I’d report them to you to enable you to fix them.
These broken links came from a data migration when we upgraded our website. We are really sorry about it.
These are the 3 pages with broken links:
http://whatsthatbug.com/2007/12/29/two-spined-spider-from-new-zealand/
http://whatsthatbug.com/2005/12/21/two-spined-spider-new-zealand-spiny-orb-weaver/
http://whatsthatbug.com/2007/01/17/spiny-orb-weaver-from-new-zealand/
The new address of the two-spine spider on our website is the following:
http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/ResearchAtTePapa/Research/NaturalEnvironment/InsectsSpidersAndSimilar/SpidersWeb/What/Pages/Twospined.aspx
Thanks a lot for linking to us again!
Kind regards,
Florence Liger, webmaster at Te Papa
Signature: Florence Liger

Letter 3 – Spiny Orb Weaver Jewelry

 

spider
Hi! My boyfriend knows I like spiders, so he gave me this necklace a while back. (I have since told him I like them ALIVE, not dead.) I haven’t found what kind of spider it is though. I think it may be a spiny orbweaver of some sort. Did I guess right? I love your site, by the way! The pictures people send in are absolutely lovely. More power to you and the creepy crawlies that we share the earth with!
Nicole

Hi Nicole,
We agree that this is a Spiny Orb Weaver, but do not know the species. These lucite encased spiders and insects that are used as pendants and key chains are produced in China with local specimens.

Letter 4 – Spiny Orbweaver from Brazil: Rubrepeira rubronigra

 

Subject: Spider
Location: Rio Negro River in Brazil
November 13, 2012 9:34 pm
Can you tell me a little about this spider? Can’t seem to find any info on it. Thank you
Signature: Sincerely

Spiny Orbweaver:  Rubrepeira rubronigra

All we can say is WOW, that is a beautiful spider.  This is one of the Orbweavers in the family Araneidae, and it is most likely one of the Spiny Orbweavers from several genera that are already represented on our site.  It might also be a different genus.  Some Orbweavers get quite large, with a leg span close to that of a human hand, though most of the Spiny Orbweavers are smaller.  We wish you provided some size information.  When we have time, we will attempt a species or genus identification.  Perhaps while we are at work, one of our loyal readers will be able to come up with some helpful information.

Daniel, thanks for getting back to me. The Spider wasn’t so big, a little bigger than a 25 cent piece.
KB

Karl digs up another identification!!!
Hi Daniel and Sincerely:
Not only is this a gorgeous spider, it is also a rare find. It is an orbweaver (Aranaeidae), specifically a female Rubrepeira rubronigra. It appears to be distributed widely throughout northern South America, but is rarely photographed and poorly documented. The definitive paper on the species is by Herbert W. Levi and it makes a very interesting read. You can access the paper by following this link and then clicking on ‘Full-text PDF’. The genus Rubrepeira is a new one and it only has the one species. As far as I can tell the male of the species has not yet been described or even discovered, and there is speculation that the males are dwarfed. Excellent post! Regards. Karl
p.s. Daniel, the second link doesn’t always work on my computer for some reason. If it gives you problems you could try finding it yourself (it shows up numerous times on Google). The reference is:  Herbert W. Levi. The American species of the orb-weaver genus Carepalxis and the new genus Rubrepeira (Araneae: Araneidae). Psyche 98:251-264, 1991.

Thank Karl,
We downloaded the pdf.rubrepeira_026493

Letter 5 – Spiny Orbweaver from Brazil

 

Subject: spinyback orbweaver spider from Brazil
Location: Curitiba, Parana, Brazil
April 10, 2013 4:59 pm
Hey there,
I have been looking in the Internet for some hours now and couldn’t find out which orbweaver spider I have found here in our local park…
I saw that some other orbweavers from Brazil have been identified here…so…let’s give it a try =D
(I hope the one picture is sufficient!)
Greetings,
Signature: by Danny

Spiny Orbweaver
Spiny Orbweaver

Dear Danny,
We haven’t the time to research this at this moment, but we are posting your lovely image of a Spiny Orbweaver.  We hope to get a species or genus name for you soon, though we suspect it is in the genus
Micrathena, which is represented on BugGuide.  It might even be a species represented on BugGuide that has a southern coloration.

Letter 6 – Spiny Orbweaver from Columbia: Micrathena lepidoptera

 

Micrathena
Location: Columbia
November 24, 2010 9:56 am
Hello
I’d like to know if it is possible to identify precisely this Micrathena. I guess it’s some variation of M. Gracilis, but cannot determine further. I suppose we need a specialist. Can you help me or direct me to such a specialist?
Signature: J-L

Spiny Orbweaver from Columbia: Micrathena lepidoptera

Dear J-L,
You are correct that this is a Spiny Orbweaver in the genus
Micrathena, but we need to research the species and that takes time.  We just looked at the clock and realize there is no time for research this morning as we must rush off to work.  This is just the type of challenge that our faithful reader Karl undertakes quite often and we hope he can do a bit of research.

Thanks for the time taken to answer. I don’t *need* to know what it is exactly, and certainly not immediately.
But, as I searched the net and could not find any picture like that one, I’m just damn curious 🙂
Have a good day.
JL

Karl provides an identification
Hi Daniel and J-L:
I am not the specialist you seek but I was able to do some research. According to Sabogal and Florez (2000) there are 49 species of Micrathena in Colombia, but M. gracilis does not make it that far south. Fortunately your spider is quite distinctive. The compound spines place it in the lepidoptera Group, of which there are two species in Colombia. Only M. lepidoptera, however, has three sets of compound spines on the abdomen, and most of the other characteristics are consistent with your spider as well. I wasn’t able to find any online photos for comparison but you can try linking to a paper by Levi (1985) entitled “The Spiny Orb-Weaver Genera Micrathena and Chaetacis (Araneae: Araneide)” published in the Harvard University Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology (http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/4313778#page/589/mode/1up). It has excellent descriptions and illustrations of this and many other Micrathena species. I can’t be certain of the identification but I believe that is it.  Regards.  Karl

Thanks for that. It looks like we have identification, then.
Pity there is no photographic catalog online 🙂
Thanks again for your time!
J-L

Hi again J-L,
But now there is some photographic evidence online thanks to your excellent photograph.

Letter 7 – Spiny Orbweaver from Nicaragua

 

Subject: Winged spider n Nicaragua?
Location: Nicaragua
November 17, 2015 1:15 pm
Hi Bugman! My daughter just sent this photo from Nicaragua. Could either have been in the Nueva Segovia Department up north or on the west coast. It was taken last week so about November 13, 2015. Is this a wild looking winged spider or is it a spider that has caught a butterfly or moth? Does it bite and of so, is it poisonous?
Signature: Parry

Spiny Orbweaver
Spiny Orbweaver

Dear Parry,
This is not a winged spider, but it is an Orbweaver.  We believe it may be a color variation of the highly variable Crablike Spiny Orbweaver,
Gasteracantha cancriformis, and this image of an individual from Nicaragua on FlickR  looks similar to your individual.  We would not rule out that it might be a member of the genus Micrathena.

Letter 8 – Spiny Orbweaver from Panama: Micrathena schreibersi

 

Subject: Amazing Spider from Panama
Location: Panama, Central America
August 27, 2012 10:40 pm
Hello, My family and I just returned from a two week vacation in Panama, Central America. We spotted this beauty while on a hike near a town called El Valle. I was wondering if you could help ID it for us. Would his bite have been dangerous?
Signature: Fred

Spiny Orbweaver:  Micrathena schreibersi

Hi Fred,
This is a Spiny Orbweaver from the genus
Micrathena.  We will try to determine the species.  That appears as though it might be a smaller male of the species in the upper right corner of the photo.  There is often a hugely significant size difference between the sexes in Orbweavers.  Orbweavers are not considered dangerous spiders, but some of the larger species might bite.  Spiny Orbweavers are smaller spiders.  We have identified your spider as Micrathena schreibersi thanks to the very reliable Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute website.

Letter 9 – Spiny Orbweaver from Puerto Rico: Micrathena militaris

 

Evil looking Spider
Location: Sub tropical wet forest, Patillas, Puerto Rico
December 6, 2010 2:54 pm
Hello,
Thanx for helping with ID on this unusual spider…
Signature: 3t

Spiny Orbweaver: Micrathena militaris

Dear 3t,
We found a Alberto Lopez’s Photostream of wildlife from Puerto Rico, and he identified this Spiny Orbweaver as Micrathena militaris.  We found other references to that name, but no photos on scientific websites to confirm the identification.

Hi Daniel:

I checked the Levi (1985) paper that I referenced with the previous Micrathena identification (Colombia) and M. militaris looks good.  The species is native to Cuba, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. Regards. Karl

Letter 10 – Spiny Orbweaver from Sri Lanka is Gasteracantha geminata

 

Subject: What is this black and white spider called?
Location: Sri Lanka, Colombo
December 10, 2012 1:45 am
Hi,
I found this black and white spider in my garden and I haven’t seen anything like this before. On the other side it looks the same but I think it had a small red dot as well. I have two small kids running around in the garden so I want to know what is this spider. What is this spider called and is it dangerous?
Thanks in advance,
Chanaka
Signature: Chanaka

Gasteracantha geminata, a Spiny Orbweaver

Dear Chanaka,
Except for the markings, this spider looks very much like the North American Crablike Spiny Orbweaver,
Gasteracantha cancriformis, and we would bet it is in the same genus.  We quickly located it on the South Indian Spiders website where it is identified as Gasteracantha geminata,  and the following information is provided:  “This is one of the commonest spiders in Kerala, observed in almost all the districts of Kerala. They are characterized by the presence of hard shell like flattish bodies; and black and white transverse bands on the abdomen. The colouration and shell like body are thought to be providing protection to the spider. The abdomen has three pairs of long stout lateral spines or projections, these lateral spines are actually modified simple spines. Abdomen is also characterized by number of pit like depressions or sigilla. Typically these pits or imprints are dark coloured. They construct vertical orb webs, often in open spaces between the branches of tall shrubs. In its typical posture the front portion of abdomen covers the thoracic portion of cephalothorax and only the cephalic portion is visible from above. The genus Gasteracantha is widespread in the tropics.”  Another nice photo can be found on the GeoLocations website.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for your reply and information. This helped me a lot. So this is a common spider and not a dangrous one, am I correct?
Regards,
Chanaka

Hi again Chanaka,
We cannot say for certain how common it is, but Orbweavers, including the Spiny Orbweavers, are not considered dangerous, though almost all spiders do possess venom.

Letter 11 – Spiny Orbweaver from Tanzania

 

Tanzanian Spider
Location: Morogoro and Mabibo of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
February 12, 2011 11:53 pm
I took this picture in 2008 while in Morogoro, Tanzania (a rural area). I still have no idea what it is, and have done a fair share of googling to figure it out. Three years later and still unsuccessful at finding an answer. I was about 2 inches away from this thing to take the picture, but it was worth the risk. If it helps at all, its web was strung under the shade of a tree.
I also wanted to know if you had any idea about the common types of tree spiders in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital. Unfortunately the pictures I had were useless in identification, but I can tell you this–they seemed to be in colonies, strung high in the trees together, and (i kid you not) roughly the size of my hand. Once again, I was unsuccessful in identifying the absolutely unbelievable creatures.
Thank you for your help. I have been curious for so long, and any comments are greatly appreciated.
Signature: Kendal

Horned Spider from Tanzania

Hi Kendal,
This is a Spiny Orbweaver, and we believe it may be in the genus
Gasteracantha, though we need to do some additional research to verify that identification.  We found a blog with postings of Horned Spiders that look quite similar, and they are in the genus Gasteracantha.  ZipcodeZoo lists numerous species in the genus.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to properly identify the species.  Your other request might be Golden Silk Spiders in the genus Nephila.

Spiny Orbweaver

Letter 12 – Spiny Orbweaver from Tanzania

 

Subject:  Strange Spider in Tanzania
Geographic location of the bug:  Moshi, Tanzania
Date: 07/06/2018
Time: 08:35 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello, I am staying in moshi Tanzania and came across this spider, so I took a photo of it and want to know what it is, if you could help that would be great 🙂
How you want your letter signed:  Email

Spiny Orbweaver

This is a Spiny Orbweaver in the genus Gasteracantha.  Based on this FlickR image, it appears to be Gasteracantha versicolor. though the individual pictured on EcoTourismus has much longer spines.  There it is called the Long-Winged Kite Spider.

Letter 13 – Spiny Orbweaver from Thailand

 

Cool looking Bug!
Location: Chang Mai, Thailand
December 1, 2011 5:11 am
Found this crazy bug in Chang Mai, Thailand in May this year.
Signature: Mike S

Spiny Orbweaver

Dear Mike,
Your bug is actually a Spider known as a Spiny Orbweaver.  We believe we have correctly identified it as
Gasteracantha arcuata on FlickRiver.  There are also some nice images on the PhotoMalaysia website.  It is believed that the spines discourage birds and other predators from trying to eat Spiny Orbweavers.

Letter 14 – Spiny Orbweaver from Ghana: Gasteracantha curvispina

 

Subject: Spider in Ghana
Location: Accra, Ghana
March 28, 2014 3:02 pm
Just found this in a web in our backyard in Accra. Hopefully this is an interesting one for you as I’d appreciate any information you can provide.
Thanks!
Signature: Accraexpat

Spiny Orbweaver
Spiny Orbweaver

Dear Accraexpat,
This is a Spiny Orbweaver in the family Araneidae.  It looks very much like this image of
Gasteracantha curvispina that is pictured on Dijitalimaj.  There is another image on Wikipedia Commons.  Orbweavers are not considered dangerous, and though large specimens might bite a person if carelessly handled, they are very reluctant to bite.

Letter 15 – Spiny Orbweaver Spider from Ecuador, we believe

 

Spiked Thing!
Location:  Amazon Jungle, Ecuador
July 21, 2010 4:39 pm
please help me!
found this insect in the amazon jungle in ecuador and i’m really curious what it is!
Flo

Spiny Orbweaver

Hi Flo,
We believe this is a spider and not an insect, but the angle of view of your photograph is not ideal to be able to distinguish body parts.  This looks like a Spiny Orbweaver Spider, perhaps in the genus Micrathena.  BugGuide has some images of North American species.  We then found a match on Flickr identified as Micrathena cf raimondi.

Letter 16 – Unknown Spiny Orbweaver

 

What kind of spider is this? My father took the picture in Dar Es Salaam Tanzania
Jason McKesson

Hi Jason,
This is some species of Spiny Orbweaver, probably in the genus Gasteracantha.

Authors

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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7 thoughts on “Spiny Orb Weaver Spider Bite: Is it Poisonous? Find Out Now!”

  1. The first one does indeed look like a Spiny Orb-Weaver from the Family Araneidae, Genus Gasteracantha.
    Honestly, there are so many species just within that one genus, that it’s very difficult to narrow it down. However, it does not look anything like the three species I’m familiar with here in Sub-Saharan Africa: milvoides, versicolor, and anguinolenta.
    Both photos are showing the ventral side of the spider, making it difficult to identify correctly. Are there any photos of the dorsal (top) side of the spider so we can see the markings on top of the abdomen?

    Reply
  2. I was hoping for some other images from Kendal.
    In a previous post “Spiny Orb Weaver from Africa” from November 4th 2009, the picture depicts Gasteracantha milvoides.

    Upon closer inspection, the above spider’s spines look very similar shape and size to Gasteracantha falcicornis, but the markings are different from what I’m familiar with from references online and in books.

    Reply
  3. me agrada mucho saber que en Panamá existan estas magnificas especies de arañas, me gustaría que pudieran obtener mas información acerca de ellas.

    Reply
  4. Hi remirez and bugman. I saw your initial post. And randomly came across my own picture (the one above) while on Google, now 6 years later. I do not have other pictures of this one in particular. It’s been 9 yrs since the above was taken. Hard to believe. Thanks for solving the mystery. It’s amazing how many other mysteries are still yet to be discovered about our planet. Let’s hope our climate – both political and global – are smart enough to keep those mysteries alive.

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  5. Thanks for the information I accidentally stumbled on this orb weaver 2 days ago. parked my car near a tree, to be honest I was aware of the bug, im assuming My Afro picked it up when I came back to my car, I didn’t realize till I started driving. Oh man was panicking, but I parked picked up the Orb weaver put it in a plastic bottle and dropped her off in some shrubs by the road then the end. Ps no animals were harmed during this process and no pollution occurred thank ya.

    Reply

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