Golden Silk Spider: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell

The Golden Silk Spider, scientifically known as Trichonephila clavipes, is a fascinating species native to southeastern states like Florida. These large spiders exhibit striking orange and brown hues and are easily recognizable due to the feathery tufts on their legs.

They are known for creating beautiful, golden-colored webs during the late summer and fall seasons. Despite their captivating appearance, Golden Silk Spiders can be a nuisance for hikers and hunters who often encounter their large webs in densely vegetated areas.

Some key features of the Golden Silk Spider include:

  • Large size (females usually larger than males)
  • Orange and brown coloration
  • Feathery tufts on legs
  • Golden silk webs

A comparison of Golden Silk Spiders to their closely related cousin, the East Asian Joro Spider, highlights some similarities and differences. Both species belong to the group of large spiders called golden orb-web weavers and make enormous, multi-layered webs of gold-colored silk. However, the Joro Spider is native to East Asia, while the Golden Silk Spider is found across the southeastern United States 1.

Golden Silk Spider Identification

Color and Size

The Golden Silk Spider, also known as Trichonephila clavipes or the Golden Silk Orb-Weaver, is a large spider known for its distinct colors. The spider exhibits a combination of orange, yellow, and brown hues, especially on its abdomen. The females are notably larger than the males.

For example:

  • Female body length: 24-40mm
  • Male body length: 5-6mm

Physical Characteristics

Here are some notable physical characteristics of the Golden Silk Spider:

  • Abdomen: The abdomen is elongated and contains yellow spots on a dark brown background.
  • Legs: The spider has eight legs with a unique appearance, featuring feathery tufts of hair on their surface.

The chart below compares some key aspects of the Golden Silk Spider’s appearance.

Characteristic Description
Color Orange, Yellow, and Brown
Abdomen Elongated with yellow spots on a dark brown base
Legs Eight legs with feathery tufts of hair

In summary, you can identify a Golden Silk Spider by its distinctive color, elongated abdomen with yellow spots, and hairy legs.

Habitat and Distribution

United States and Central America

The Golden Silk Spider, Trichonephila clavipes, is commonly found in the southeastern United States, particularly in states like Florida and North Carolina.
In Central America, their distribution extends to countries like Guatemala and Panama.

  • Preferred habitat: They typically inhabit warm, humid environments, such as gardens and forests.

South America and the Pacific

In South America, the Golden Silk Spider ranges from countries like Argentina to the northwestern coast.
Their habitat extends to the far reaches of the South Pacific, including islands such as Madagascar and New Guinea.

  • Versatility: These spiders adapt well to various environments, from tropical rainforests to dry deserts.
Region Distribution Examples
United States Southeastern states Florida, North Carolina
Central America Through Panama Guatemala, Panama
South America Northwestern coast Argentina
South Pacific Islands, Madagascar Madagascar, New Guinea
  • Key Features:
    • Inhabit warm, humid environments
    • Adapt well to various environments

Web and Silk Properties

Structure and Appearance

The golden silk spider, also known as an orb-weaving spider, creates a unique type of web that displays an asymmetrical orb shape. The spider typically waits near the top of the web, making it a semi-permanent structure 1. The web itself has a signature golden hue, hence the name “golden silk spider” 2.

  • Unique asymmetrical orb structure
  • Semi-permanent (not destroyed periodically)
  • Distinctive golden hue

Strength and Applications

Spider silk, especially from the golden silk spider, is known for its exceptional strength and stretchiness. These properties make it resilient and one of the strongest materials known 3. In comparison to steel, spider silk of the same weight has greater tensile strength 4. Here are some applications of spider silk:

  1. Web building and capturing prey
  2. Sperm transfer in reproduction
  3. Lining hibernating, molting, or living chambers
  4. Constructing egg cases
  5. Draglines and mating bowers
  6. Wind-borne travel in spiderlings

The versatility of spider silk offers potential uses in various fields, such as creating fishing nets (due to its strength and underwater durability), as well as in medical advancements (biodegradability and biocompatibility with human tissues) 5.

Comparison Table

Material Strength Stretchiness Applications
Steel Strong Low Construction, infrastructure, automotive and aviation
Spider Silk Exceptional (Greater than steel at equal weight) High Web building, prey capture, reproduction, living chambers, egg cases, draglines, mating bowers, potential medical applications

Diet and Prey

The Golden Silk Spider, also known as the Trichonephila clavipes, has a preference for flying insects as its primary source of nourishment. These spiders are experts at catching a variety of winged victims.

Flying Insects

Golden Silk Spiders typically target:

  • Flies
  • Bees
  • Mosquitoes
  • Butterflies
  • Dragonflies
  • Grasshoppers

These skilled predators craft their webs to strategically capture their prey. Once ensnared, they immobilize the insect by injecting venom.

Comparison Table

Prey Attraction for Spiders Cons for Spiders
Flies Abundant and easy to catch Lower nutritional value
Bees Nutritious and high in protein Can potentially sting the spider
Mosquitoes Widespread, especially in humid areas Smaller size, less sustenance
Butterflies Visually appealing prey Might escape due to size
Dragonflies Good source of protein Difficult to catch, strong wings
Grasshoppers Large and filling Might escape because of size

The Golden Silk Spider’s diet is diverse and opportunistic. They take advantage of their environment to feed on a wide range of flying insects, ensuring a consistent source of nutrients.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Mating Behavior

Golden Silk Spiders exhibit fascinating mating rituals. Males are much smaller than females, and they approach females with caution. They perform a delicate dance on the web to avoid being mistaken for prey and eaten by the female. Males also deposit their sperm onto the female’s abdomen, using a specialized organ called a pedipalp.

Eggs and Offspring

Female Golden Silk Spiders, also known as Banana Spiders, lay their eggs around August or September. They create a protective egg sac made of silk and cover it with a layer of their golden silk. Some key features of their reproduction are:

  • Females can lay up to 3,000 eggs in one sac
  • Egg sacs are about the size of a small orange
  • The color of the egg sac helps camouflage it among leaves

Adult females guard their egg sacs to ensure the survival of their offspring. The baby spiders or spiderlings hatch within a few weeks and are covered in a dense layer of fine hair. They remain close to the egg sac until they are ready to disperse and build webs of their own.

Comparison Table

Females Males
Size Larger (body length up to 1.5 inches) Smaller (body length 0.2-0.35 inches)
Color Brighter, often yellowish-orange with black markings Duller, typically brownish or grayish
Role Build webs, lay eggs, guard offspring Transfer sperm, dance to attract females

It’s important to note that Golden Silk Spiders are generally not harmful to humans. Their venom can cause localized pain and redness, similar to a bee sting, but it’s not severe or dangerous unless the person is allergic. The spiders will bite only if threatened or mishandled.

Human Interaction

Encounters and Safety Precautions

People often encounter the Golden Silk Spider during the late summer and fall in southeastern states. The spiders commonly build their large golden webs in low shrubs, where hikers and hunters might come across them. To avoid unpleasant encounters with these spiders:

  • Be observant while walking in wooded areas
  • Carry a walking stick to clear webs ahead of you
  • Wear long sleeves and pants to protect your skin

Medical Significance

The Golden Silk Spider is not venomous, and its bite is considered harmless to humans. However, if bitten, some individuals may experience localized pain and redness at the bite site. Comparing this species to other spiders, the Golden Silk Spider is less likely to cause medical concerns:

Spider Type Bite Effects Medical Concern
Golden Silk Spider Localized pain, redness Low
Brown Recluse Necrosis, severe pain High
Black Widow Neurotoxic, severe pain High

In most cases, a bite from a Golden Silk Spider does not require medical attention, and over-the-counter pain relief can manage the symptoms. Remember, it’s essential to:

  • Remain calm and avoid panicking if bitten
  • Keep the bite area clean with soap and water
  • Apply a cold compress to the bite site to reduce swelling and pain
  • Consult a medical professional if the symptoms worsen or don’t subside after a day or two

Importance for Ecosystem

The Golden Silk Spider, also known as Trichonephila clavipes, plays a crucial role in maintaining the ecosystem balance. One of its main contributions lies in pest control.

  • It feeds on various insects, including mosquitoes and flies.
  • By consuming these pests, it helps reduce their population, ultimately improving human health and crop production.

The protein found in these spiders is also noteworthy. Their silk glands produce a unique, liquid protein, which turns into exceptionally strong and elastic fibers when stretched. Spider silk has impressive properties:

  • Greater tensile strength than steel of the same weight.
  • Highly elastic, which means it can stretch without breaking.

Due to its extraordinary features, researchers are interested in utilizing spider silk for various applications. Potential transportation improvements include:

  • Lightweight, strong materials for vehicles and aircraft.
  • Developing impact-resistant windshield glass.

A comparison between the silk of Golden Silk Spider and steel:

Material Tensile Strength Elasticity Weight
Golden Silk Spider Silk High High Light
Steel High Low Heavy

To summarize, the Golden Silk Spider contributes significantly to ecosystem balance, pest control, and novel material development for various industries. Its exceptional silk properties offer exciting opportunities for future innovations.

Conservation and Threats

The Golden Silk Spider, also known as Trichonephila clavipes, is a large orange and brown spider found in Florida and other southeastern states1. Although it may be despised by hikers and hunters for its large golden webs, this fascinating creature plays a vital role in maintaining the ecosystem balance.

Molting

Molting is a process in which the spider sheds its exoskeleton to grow larger. This is a vulnerable time for the Golden Silk Spider, as it is more prone to predation and environmental threats. Understanding molting can help in conservation efforts for this species.

Threats

Some of the threats faced by the Golden Silk Spider include:

  • Habitat loss
  • Pesticide exposure
  • Climate change

Conservation

To protect the Golden Silk Spider, various measures can be taken:

  • Limit pesticide use in their native habitats
  • Preserve and restore natural ecosystems

To understand the importance of these conservation efforts, let’s compare their benefits and drawbacks.

Conservation Efforts Pros Cons
Limit pesticide use Protect spiders and other species May affect crop protection
Preserve ecosystems Maintain biodiversity Requires resources and funding

In conclusion, the Golden Silk Spider plays an essential role in our ecosystem. Understanding its threats and taking relevant conservation measures is crucial to protect this striking species.

Golden Silk Spider vs Other Species

Argiope Aurantia

Argiope aurantia, also known as the black and yellow garden spider, is a showy spider often noticed in late summer. The females have a body length of just over one inch. Some key features of Argiope aurantia include:

  • Orb-weaver spider
  • Bright color pattern
  • Trademark zig-zag pattern in web

In contrast to the golden silk spider, Argiope aurantia has a more pronounced color pattern and a smaller body size.

Comparison of Golden Silk Spider and Argiope Aurantia:

Feature Golden Silk Spider Argiope Aurantia
Body length Larger than Argiope Aurantia Approximately 1 inch
Color pattern Orange and brown hues Bright black and yellow
Web construction Large golden webs Zig-zag pattern in center

Araneus Species

Araneus species are part of the Araneidae family, along with the golden silk spider and Argiope aurantia. A notable example of an Araneus species is the giant wood spider, found in Australia’s forests. Some characteristics of Araneus species are:

  • Cylindrical body
  • Inconspicuous color patterns
  • One generation in temperate North America

Araneus species differ from the golden silk spider in body shape, color patterns, and habits.

Features of Araneus Species:

  • More inconspicuous than golden silk spiders
  • Commonly found in temperate North America

The golden silk spider has a distinct appearance with its orange-banded legs and leg hair brushes, which resemble gaiters. In comparison, Araneus species have a more cylindrical body and inconspicuous habits, making them less noticeable in their environment.

Footnotes

  1. (https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/golden_silk_spider.htm) 2 3

  2. https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/MISC/SPIDERS/yellow-garden-spider.html

  3. https://news.mit.edu/2012/spider-web-strength-0202

  4. https://mdc.mo.gov/wildlife/wildlife-facts/insect-spider-and-kin-facts/spider-facts

  5. https://uwm.edu/field-station/the-wonders-of-webs-i-spider-silk/

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 – Banana Spider from Puerto Rico

 

Ed. Note: October 5, 2010
This past weekend, we really wanted to link to this old posting, but alas, we could not locate it.  Our webmaster tracked it down and it seemed it did not make our major website migration just over two years ago.  We suspect this is not the only missing gem, but the perk that comes from resposting it is that the photo can be greatly enlarged with our new technology.

Banana Spider!
(11/10/2003) Unidentified Spider from Puerto Rico
Hi Bugman,
While staying in Puerto Rico two summers ago, my boyfriend caught this freeloader living in his apartment without paying rent. Do you know what kind it is?
Thanks,
Jennifer & Donny

Banana Spider

Dear Jennifer and Donny,
First let me say yours is one of the most beautiful photos we have ever received. Thank you for sending the image of a male Heteropoda venatoria, also called a Banana Spider. The female is a more robust spider with shorter legs. This is the spider that is responsible for the rumors that tarantulas come into the U.S. with bananas because they are often spotted emerging frrom a bunch of bananas in a fruit store in the North. This Giant Crab Spider is usually the culprit. The species is found in all tropical regions, its range extending clear around the world. It is very abundant in all tropical seaport towns, being transported in trading vessels. Its chief food is cockroaches. The female carries her eggs beneath her body. According to this site it is also called the Huntsman Spider.

Letter 2 – Banana Spider from Guam: Argiope appensa

 

Confused. . . .
I just recently moved to Guam and it seems all the locals call this a banana spider. I did today actually see a real banana spider. So the leads me to wonder, what spider is this? Golden orb weaver or a St. Andrews Cross Spider? I was a little confused after reading about them on your "spiders" page.
Mike (from Guam)

Hi Mike,
Your confusion lies in the use of the common name Banana Spider. We know of three spiders that share this common name, Nephila clavipes (AKA Golden Silk Spider), Heteropoda venatoria (AKA Huntsman Spider), and your spider, Argiope appensa. According to Wikipedia: “On Guam , where A. appensa is ubiquitous, it is frequently visited by Argyrodes argentatus . Locals there refer to A. appensa as banana spiders . Following the introduction of the brown tree snake and the subsequent extinction or near-extinction of many of the island’s small birds, spider populations on Guam exploded decreasing predation and competition.”

Letter 3 – Golden Silk Spider from Jamaica

 

Subject:  Large Jamaican spider
Geographic location of the bug:  Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Date: 01/10/2018
Time: 01:38 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi bugman,
Wondered if you might identify this large spider spotted in Jamaica during a trip in December.  There were many of these spiders on the property but this was the largest that I could find.  Its body was maybe an inch and a half, with long thick legs.  Interestingly, much of the web, especially the thickest strands, were yellow!
Thanks in advance!
How you want your letter signed:  Kyle

Golden Silk Spider

Dear Kyle,
This lovely lady is a Golden Silk Spider in the genus
Nephila, but she doesn’t look like Nephila clavipes, the only member of the genus found naturally in the New World.  All other members of the genus are found in Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands.  Perhaps her markings are due to the Jamaican individuals having a closed gene pool, and they are developing into a subspecies, since the image on Sharp Photography looks exactly like your individual.  The name Golden Silk Spider refers to the very strong gold colored silk spun by members of the genus.  Golden Silk Spiders might bite if provoked, but they are considered harmless.

Golden Silk Spider

Letter 4 – Golden Silk Spider from Namibia

 

Namibian arthropods
Location: Namibia (see above)
November 15, 2011 12:44 pm
Can you please name these.All pictures were taken in April 2011 in Namibia.
The cricket was taken in the Etendeke Mountain camp close to Palmwag. The other 2 images were taken at Durstenbruck farm north of Windhoek.
Signature: Roger Pinkney

Banded-Legged Golden Orb-Web Spider

Dear Roger,
Your photos are beautiful, but this is a tall order.  We identified this Golden Silk Spider in the genus Nephila
quite quickly, however, we expect your other arthropods will take more time.  We have always called spiders in the genus Nephila Golden Silk Spiders because their very strong webs are spun of golden silk.  We have a single new world species, Nephila clavipes.  We found Nephila senegalense pictured on the Spider Club of Southern Africa website, and armed with that name, we found this beautiful stamp on the Stamp Collectors Catalogue.  We will attend to your other identification requests in the morning.

Tchad Stamp with Nephila senegalense

Dear Daniel, Many thanks for your 3 messages and all the details they contain. I’m not e-maiing from Namibia but from the U.K. but the delay in responding is because we don’t have the computer on daily. I’ve attached to this message 2 more photos not for identification as I believe they are of a Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpiller but I hoped you  might like to see them or use them.
I wonder however if I may submit 2 further pictures for identification, again both taken in Namibia.
Kind regards, Roger.

Hi again Roger,
We will try our best to identify anything you send to us if time allows.  Our readership enjoys reading about details surrounding particular sightings, and that is what your original email was lacking because you attached three completely different and unrelated (except for being from Namibia) creatures.  In the future, please limit the attached photos to a single species per email and please use our standard form.  If you can recall the time of year, time of day or any other relevant details, that would be wonderful.  You may also add details regarding the three previous photos by attaching comments to the postings we have already made.

Letter 5 – A pair of Banana Spiders cohabitate

 

spider
Can you tell me if this is a banana spider or orb spider or if they are two different spiders?
Theresa

Hi Theresa,
We love your photograph. These are Banana Spiders or Golden Silk Spiders, Nephila clavipes. It is a pair. The male is much smaller than the female, often a mere 1/100 of her body weight. He shares a web with her, and this cohabitation must have some symbiotic significance other than just proximity for mating. Perhaps he gets protection and also benefits from the insects trapped in her web. Banana Spiders are in the group known as Orb Weavers.

Letter 6 – A Pair of Golden Silk Spiders

 

Subject:  Paramours of the arachnid persuasion
Geographic location of the bug:  Columbia, South Carolina, USA
Date: 10/16/2019
Time: 11:32 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello, Bugman! I wanted to share this photo I took of (what I’m pretty certain are) Golden Silk Orbweavers. This lovely lady and her paramour have made their rather extensive home just outside my bathroom window. Her web is about 4 or 5 feet at its widest, plus the attaching guylines. Her body is about 3″ long and her legs make her even larger. He, on the other hand, barely makes it to 2″ with his legs. Her silk is a gorgeous yellow and looks quite fine in the sun.
How you want your letter signed:  Lissa Sprenne

Pair of Golden Silk Spiders

Dear Lissa,
Thanks so much for submitting your excellent images of a pair of Golden Silk Spiders,
Nephila clavipes.  Your images nicely illustrate the beautiful golden color of the web.  The female Golden Silk Spider is approximately 50 times larger than her diminutive mate.

Pair of Golden Silk Spiders

Letter 7 – Argiope appensa in Guam: Banana Spider

 

Spiders in Guam
I live in Guam and have these wonderful spiders living in my carport. I would like to know if the spider is male or female. Also, is the little one the offspring, rather than simply caught in the web? I hope these photos are clear enough. I’ve enjoyed watching two of these spiders grow from tiny to this size (approx 3.5 inches in span) in the course of five months, but others never seem to make it past infancy (or what I presume is infancy due to their size). Regards,
June Ameika

Hi June,
This is a pair of Argiope Spiders. The female is the larger of the two and the male shares her web. We did a google search of “Argiope Guam” and were led to a Wikipedia page describing and picturing Argiope appensa. Argiope appensa is one of at least three unrelated spiders commonly called Banana Spiders. According to Wikipedia: “Females reach a body length of up to 7cm and are strikingly black and yellow, while the brown males reach only about 2cm. [1] On Guam, where A. appensa is ubiquitous, it is frequently visited by Argyrodes argentatus. Locals there refer to A. appensa as banana spiders. Following the introduction of the brown tree snake and the subsequent extinction or near-extinction of many of the island’s small birds, spider populations on Guam exploded decreasing predation and competition. A. appensa is almost certainly one of the large species which were encountered there in vast numbers, much to his horror, by nature writer David Quammen (who is extremely arachnophobic) during his trip doing background research for the book The Song of the Dodo, as he vividly recalls therein.”

Letter 8 – Banana Spider

 

Spider photos
Attached are photos of a spider a worker at a local grocery store found in a bunch of organic bananas. He said the sider was inside a egg pouch with the spiderlings. He froze and destroyed the egg sac after he removed the adult. Is this a banana spider?

There are several unrelated spiders known commonly as Banana Spiders, including Golden Silk Spiders in the genus Nephila and Huntsman Spiders. One of the most commonly encountered Banana Spiders is Heteropoda venatoria, also known as a Giant Crab Spider. It looks like the spider in your photo might be a female Heteropoda venatoria.

Letter 9 – Banana Spider

 

Golden Silk Spider?
Hi from Georgia, and thanks for the site! We’ve recently stopped using chemical pesticides around the house, and we’ve seen a proliferation of lots of unusual characters, most of whom are harmless and interesting, and your site has been very helpful. Just this morning as I was taking a look at our power meter, I almost ran into this magnificent but scary creature, who has built a huge web outside the garage overnight. He’s 2 1/2-3 inches long and seems quite content even as I took his picture; however, I wouldn’t really want to have a closer encounter with him. From your site, I’m pretty sure he’s a Golden Silk Spider, but he is quite large so thought I’d confirm. Should he be relocated? I also just thought you might want to take a look at him…don’t know if he’s common for this time of year, and he is an especially good looking fellow in my estimation.
Thanks,
Judy

Hi Judy,
Yes, SHE is very attractive. Your Golden Silk Spider is also commonly called the Banana Spider, and the scientific name is Nephila clavipes. These are Southern spiders and autumn is the time they are maturing, growing to their adult size, and consequently attracting more attention. The female spider is often 100 times larger than her diminutive mate who usually lives on the periphery of her web. About 100 years ago there were experiments in using the silk of this spider, which is very strong, in textiles. It proved cost prohibitive.

Letter 10 – Banana Spider, AKA Golden Silk Spider

 

Subject: Banana Spider
Location: South East Texas
August 13, 2014 6:44 pm
Not sure if it’s actaully called a Banana Spider but that’s what we call them in my area. We have many of these in the yard. Our yard is a like a spider wonderland!
Signature: S. Miller

Banana Spider
Banana Spider

Dear S. Miller,
Your spider is
Nephila clavipes, and Banana Spider is one common name, though the more widely used common name is Golden Silk Spider because of the strength of the silk, which is gold in color.  Though they might bite if carelessly handled, these Banana Spiders are considered harmless.

Letter 11 – Banana Spider: Immigrant from Columbia

 

Spider from Columbia made it to the USA!
April 22, 2010
I work in a facility in the USA where we ripen bananas. First off, this is one tough spider. It has traveled thousand of miles at sea, was jostled around within a 2000lb pallet, suffocated with ethylene gas for 24 hours which is used to replace oxygen and start the ripening process of bananas, dodged fork lifts with banana pallets on them only to be swept out of a ripening room by me. I stopped the instance I saw the dust pile moving and quickly got two cups and a bunch of tape to snatch this spider up. It isn’t in the best of shape which I blame myself for but it’s still kicking! I believe it is of the huntsman group. As far as I can tell it is not a Brazilian Wandering Spider. Leg span from front to back is about 1 1/2 inches. it has been given a meal worm and a cricket but hasn’t snatched either up. Any info would be great!
James Price
COLUMBIA (but discovered in the states)

Banana Spider

Hi James,
The Huntsman Spider Heteropoda venatoria has multiple common names including Banana Spider, the most appropriate name for your individual.  Banana Spiders got this common name many years ago exactly because they entered distant lands on banana boats, often cropping up in grocery stores when the shipment was delivered.  They are often mistaken for Tarantulas.  The Banana Spider now has a nearly worldwide distribution, especially in warm port towns where it can survive and reproduce.  The Banana Spider is harmless, and it is a shy nocturnal hunter that does not build a web and will eat all the night prowling Cockroaches it encounters.  Compare your photos to this one on BugGuide where it is indicated:  “Non-native, introduced from Asia, possibly on bananas. Apparently spreading into the US from warmest areas.
”  We love your eye witness account.

Banana Spider

Letter 12 – Cloth spun from Golden Silk Spider webs

 

Cool article: cloth spun from spider’s silk
September 23, 2009
Hi WTB–
I thought you might enjoy this article–beautiful cloth woven from silk that was harvested from orb weaver spiders.
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/09/spider-silk/
JJR

Dear JJR,
We should have some very old postings in our archive on textiles woven from the silk of the Golden Silk Spiders in the genus Nephila.  Thanks for the awesome link.

Letter 13 – Freeloader Flies share meal with Golden Silk Spider

 

Do Spiders regrow Legs? & what are these flies?
June 5, 2010
Recently had a small lynx spider on a plant in my yard (spring) missing several legs, I also noticed a golden spider missing legs in a web in winter last year. I’m curious do spiders regrow limbs lost? And also the same golden spider species seems to have flies on it or on its prey in the web, I have never seen this before and the flies seem to not care they were on a spider, and in its web..
Any idea what the flies are doing and what kind of flies they are..
Thanks, Dee
Polk County, Florida, USA

Freeloader Flies share meal with Golden Silk Spider

Hi Again Dee,
The flies with your Golden Silk Spider are Freeloader Flies in the family Milichiidae.  According to Dr. Irina Brake  who coined the English name Freeloader Flies
on her Milichiidae online website, some members of the family “are kleptoparasitic, feeding on the prey of spiders or predaceous insects.”  On the Biology of Milichiidae page, Dr. Brake indicates:  “Another very interesting feature of Milichiidae behavior is kleptoparasitism or commensalism. Species of several genera suck at the prey of spiders or predatory insects such as Reduviidae, Asilidae, Mantidae, or Odonata. Mostly they are attracted to predators feeding on stink bugs (Pentatomidae) or squash bugs (Coreidae) (Frost 1913, Robinson & Robinson 1977, Sivinski & Stowe 1980, Landau & Gaylor 1987). In almost all cases it is only the females that are kleptoparasitic. In some cases a close association between milichiid and predator has been postulated, because it was observed that the fly “rides” on the predator for some time, staying with the one predator rather than changing between different predators (Biró 1899, Robinson & Robinson 1977).”  Regarding the leg regeneration question, we have seen images of a Fishing Spider with several smaller legs, and the hypothesis is that if a spider loses its legs while very young, stunted legs may regenerate.  Alas, older spiders will not regenerate their legs.

Golden Silk Spider: double amputee

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