Spiny Orbweaver from Columbia: Micrathena lepidoptera

Location: Columbia
November 24, 2010 9:56 am
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.

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!

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

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