Types of Orb Weavers: Discovering Nature’s Skilled Architects

Orb weaver spiders, known for their intricate and delicate webs, are a fascinating group of arachnids. As you explore the world of these captivating creatures, you’ll discover the incredible diversity in their appearances, behaviors, and habitats.

The Orchard Orbweavers, for example, are small, attractive spiders that are quite common in the eastern U.S. They come in various colors and patterns, making them an interesting subject for both amateur and professional arachnologists. What sets them apart from other spiders is their unique way of creating beautiful, circular webs to catch their prey.

As you dive deeper into learning about the various types of orb weavers, you’ll uncover a world full of fascinating adaptations and unexpected marvels. From the garden orb weaver to the golden silk orb weaver, these amazing creatures will surely capture your attention and spark your curiosity. So grab a magnifying glass, and let’s embark on an adventure into the world of orb weaving spiders.

Understanding Orb Weavers

Orb weavers are a diverse group of spiders belonging to the phylum Arthropoda, class Arachnida, order Araneae within the animal kingdom, Animalia. These spiders are called orb-weaving spiders due to their ability to create stunning orb-shaped webs.

These spiders come in various sizes, with some having a large, bulbous abdomen1. Orb weavers are usually found in gardens, fields, and forests2. They’re most active in spring, but they become more noticeable in autumn as their webs get bigger2.

As part of the arachnid family, orb weavers share common characteristics with other arachnids such as:

  • 8 legs
  • 2 main body parts: cephalothorax and abdomen
  • No wings or antennae

Some common types of orb weavers are the marbled orb weaver3 and the yellow garden spider4. Different species can be difficult to distinguish, as they may have varying abdomen shapes, ranging from smooth to spiny or irregular2.

Orb weavers are helpful to the environment since they capture, kill, and eat insects5. This makes them a valuable ally for pest management. Now that you have a basic understanding of orb weavers, you can appreciate their unique abilities and their essential role in our ecosystem.

Anatomy of Orb Weavers

Size and Shape

Orb weavers come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Spiderlings are small, while adults can have a body length ranging from a few millimeters to several centimeters. In general, orb weavers have large abdomens that slightly overlap with their cephalothorax, giving them a distinctive appearance.

Adult female orb weavers tend to be larger than their male counterparts. For instance, the spined micrathena has a body size of about 1/4 to 3/8 inch for females and 1/8 to 1/4 inch for males.

Color Patterns

Orb weavers display diverse color patterns and combinations, which help them blend with their surroundings or attract prey. Some species like the banded garden spider show striking black and yellow bands, while others like the spotted orb weaver have intricate patterns and various colors on the abdomen.

It’s important to note that color patterns can vary within species, making identification challenging at times.

Unique Features

Along with size and color patterns, orb weavers possess unique features that set them apart. For example, the spined micrathena has sharp spines on its abdomen, which may deter predators.

Long-jawed orb weavers, on the other hand, have distinct webs with ahorizontal incline and an opening in the middle. Their front two pairs of legs are typically longer than their hind two pairs.

Banded garden spiders are known to build large, spiral-shaped webs in open fields and gardens, while spotted orb weavers usually construct their webs near light sources to take advantage of the insects attracted by the light.

In summary, understanding the different features of orb weavers, such as their size, shape, color patterns, and unique characteristics, can help you identify and appreciate these fascinating spiders. Remember to approach them with caution and respect, as they play an essential role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems.

Types of Orb Weavers

Argiope

Argiope spiders belong to the Araneidae family and are known for their striking appearance. The Argiope aurantia, also known as the black and yellow garden spider, is an iconic example of this genus. Female spiders are larger than males, and they often mate with smaller male spiders. Some features of Argiope spiders include:

  • Bright colors (usually black and yellow)
  • Large size, particularly in females
  • Orb-shaped webs

Neoscona

Neoscona is another genus in the family Araneidae. One common species is Neoscona crucifera, known for its red or brown color and the cross-like pattern on its abdomen. Here are some characteristics of Neoscona spiders:

  • Red or brown color with a cross-like pattern on the abdomen
  • Smaller size compared to Argiope spiders
  • Orb-shaped webs similar to other orb-weaver spiders

Araneus

Araneus is a large genus of orb-weaver spiders also belonging to the Araneidae family. There are many species within this genus; one example is the marbled orbweaver which has a large abdomen with unique markings. Features of Araneus spiders include:

  • Various patterns and colors on the abdomen
  • Large, overlapping abdomen with the cephalothorax
  • Appear in gardens, fields, and forests

Other Genera

Orb-weaver spiders consist of various other genera in the Araneidae family. Some examples include Mastophora, Ordgarius, Verrucosa, and Micrathena. These genera exhibit different shapes, sizes, and colors depending on the species and their habitat.

Remember, all orb-weaver spiders are important members of their ecosystems and help control insect populations. So, whenever you encounter an orb-weaver spider, appreciate its beauty and the vital role it plays in nature.

Webs of Orb Weavers

Orb weaver spiders are known for their intricate and organized webs. These webs are made of sticky threads designed to capture prey. Once an insect is ensnared, the orb weaver utilizes its strength to immobilize and overpower it. Some webs even have special structures called a stabilimentum to provide extra support.

The construction of these webs is a fascinating process. Orb weavers typically build new webs every day. While some parts of the web might be repaired, the spiders often prefer to create an entirely new web. One common reason for building a new web is the loss of stickiness in the existing web. A sticky web is vital for capturing prey, and a non-sticky web will fail to secure a meal.

Here are some key features of orb weaver webs:

  • Made of sticky threads
  • Intricate and organized design
  • Stabilimentum for additional support
  • Rebuilt daily or repaired as needed

Orb weaver spiders rely heavily on their webs to catch prey. Maintaining and constructing these complex structures is an essential part of their daily lives. When you come across an orb weaver web in nature, take a moment to appreciate the spider’s remarkable engineering skills.

Habitats and Geographic Distribution

North America

Orb weavers can be found in various habitats across North America, including forests, grasslands, and gardens. Their range extends from Canada and the United States to Mexico, covering regions with diverse climates such as Alaska and Arizona. For instance, the marbled orb weaver inhabits the eastern United States, where it can often be seen in gardens and fields1. Florida is home to N. crucifera, one of the largest orb-weaving spiders in the state5.

  • Habitats: forests, grasslands, gardens
  • Range: Canada, United States, Mexico
  • United States examples: Maine, Arizona, Florida, Alaska

Australia

In Australia, orb-weaving spiders can be found in various habitats, from forests to tall grass and gardens. While detailed information is limited on the specific distribution of orb weavers in this region, it is understood that they inhabit different environments to adapt to the diverse Australian climate.

  • Habitats: forests, tall grass, gardens
  • Range: Australia

Other Regions

Orb weavers can also be found in other regions across the globe. Their diverse range of habitats and adaptability allow them to thrive in various environments. While this section focuses primarily on North America and Australia, it is important to note that orb-weaving spiders have a worldwide distribution, making them a fascinating group of arachnids to study.

  • Range: Worldwide
  • Habitats: Varied, depending on region

Diet and Prey

Orb weavers are carnivorous spiders that feed on various insects. They specialize in catching their prey using their circular, wheel-like webs.

Insects like flies, moths, and wasps comprise a significant part of their diet. When an insect gets caught in the web, the orb weaver quickly wraps it in silk and injects it with venom to immobilize it. Once the prey is immobilized, the orb weaver consumes the liquefied insides of the insect.

As a predator, orb weavers help maintain a balance in the ecosystem by controlling insect populations. This benefits you, as they can reduce the number of pests in your garden or surrounding areas.

Remember to be cautious around their webs, as some orb weaver species can have painful bites if disturbed. However, they are not considered dangerous to humans, and their venom is not medically significant.

Life Cycle and Behavior

Orb weavers experience a fascinating life cycle. Their journey begins as tiny eggs, laid by the female spider in a secure, protected location. Once the eggs hatch, the spiderlings emerge and venture out, resembling miniature versions of their adult counterparts.

As these young orb weavers grow, they molt, shedding their exoskeleton to make room for a larger one. This process repeats several times throughout their lifespan, which varies among different species but generally lasts around 1 to 2 years.

These spiders are known for their incredible engineering abilities, constructing elaborate, large, and circular webs, primarily for hunting. Some of their notabilities include the Hentz’s orbweaver and the long-jawed orbweaver.

Orb weavers are mostly nocturnal creatures, meaning they are active and hunting during the night. This can partly contribute to their overall success as hunters. During daylight hours, they typically remain hidden to avoid predators and conserve energy for the evening.

In summary, orb weavers boast a distinct life cycle that includes egg, spiderling, and adult stages. Their behavior mainly revolves around their nocturnal hunting and crafting of intricate webs to catch prey. Their overall lifespan differs among species but typically falls within the range of 1 to 2 years.

Benefits and Threats

Orb weavers, also known as garden spiders, are beneficial creatures to have in your environment. They’re skilled in controlling insect populations, as they feed on various pests, such as flies and mosquitoes1.

However, some species could pose a threat to smaller animals, like birds, due to their ability to create large, strong webs that may entangle them. Despite this, the majority of orb weavers are harmless to humans and are not considered dangerous predators5.

When it comes to venom, most orb weavers carry a mild venom that they use to immobilize their prey. Their venom is not harmful to humans, and their bites, which are rare, typically only result in mild swelling and discomfort4.

Here’s a quick comparison of the pros and cons of orb weavers in your garden:

Benefits Threats
Control insect populations Can trap small birds
Harmless to humans Web debris in your yard
Help maintain a balanced ecosystem

So, in a friendly tone, having orb weavers in your garden can bring about benefits outweighing the minor inconveniences. Just remember to keep an eye out for their webs to prevent any accidental encounters with them.

Interesting Facts about Orb Weavers

Did you know that the orb-weaver spider family, also known as Araneidae, includes a diverse group of spiders? They come in various shapes and sizes, but generally, they have a large abdomen that overlaps the cephalothorax1. Here are some interesting facts and features that make orb-weaver spiders stand out:

  • Wide variety of habitats: Orb weavers can be found in gardens, fields, and forests1. They are quite adaptable and can thrive in various environments.

  • Orb-shaped webs: As their name suggests, orb-weaver spiders create classic orb-shaped webs5. These intricate, geometric webs are some of the most iconic representations of spider webs.

  • Web replacement and maintenance: Orb weavers are known to frequently replace their webs, ensuring they always have well-maintained traps for prey2.

  • Spiders die out yearly: Orb weavers typically die out every year, leaving their egg sacs behind4.

  • Night-time hunters: Many orb-weaver spiders are more active during the night, using their webs to capture prey under the cover of darkness.

To give you a clearer picture of the differences between some orb-weaver spiders, let’s take a look at a comparison table:

Spider Habitat Abdomen Web Features
Marbled Orbweaver5 Foliage near ground level Orange, brown, or white, with markings Classic orb-shaped
Angulate Orbweaver3 Trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants Varies; often with patterned markings Classic orb-shaped
Hentz’s Orbweaver2 Trees, shrubs, and buildings Patterned stripes Open hub, few threads

In conclusion, the orb weaver spider family is diverse and fascinating. They are adaptable, skilled architects, and play an essential role in controlling insect populations. The next time you come across an orb-shaped web, take a moment to appreciate the incredible work of the orb-weaver spider.

Footnotes

  1. https://extension.usu.edu/pests/schoolipm/structural-pest-id-guide/orb-weaving-spiders 2 3 4 5

  2. https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/naturalist-news/2021-09-16-fall-spider-season-orb-weavers-spin-bigger-webs 2 3 4 5

  3. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/angulate-roundshouldered-orbweavers 2

  4. https://bygl.osu.edu/node/1686 2 3

  5. https://bygl.osu.edu/node/1878 2 3 4 5

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 – Tropical Orb Weaver from Florida

 

Spider Fangs and other great pictures… Best Tropical Orb Weaver pictures ever!
Hello! I have some pictures of a spider in my Orlando, FL backyard that I thought you might enjoy. She is (we believe) a Tropical Orb Weaver (Eriophora ravilla). One of the pictures is a pretty good shot of her fang as she is eating a cricket. She is pretty fat, and looks like she might be about ready to lay some eggs. I am sending pictures of her from many angles, to show the dull coloration on top, hints of bright colors from the side, and then beautiful reds and yellows and oranges on her underside (the camera’s flash really brings out her colors). Also, I think one of the unidentified spiders on your “spiders 2” page might also be a Tropical Orb Weaver (about 2/3 of the way down, “Orb Weavers” from Leslie in central Florida).
Best Regards,
Matthew

Hi Matthew,
Thanks for sending in your fabulous images and identification information.

Letter 2 – Wrap Around Spider from Australia

 

One Proud Spider!
Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 1:53 AM
Hi guys,
Had my first encounter with one of these yesterday, is that a gun in its pocket or is it just pleased to see me. This family all have concave undersides to their bodies to allow them to wrap around small branches for camouflage. Of a night they build large webs vertically between trees. Common name here is “wrap around spiders”, this one is Dolophones turrigera.
aussietrev
Queensland, Australia

Wrap Around Spider
Wrap Around Spider

Hi Trevor,
This is one of the craziest looking spiders ever.  We are always charmed and amused with your wonderful submissions from down under.  We hope we can locate a link to Dolophonse turrigera to accompany this posting.

Update:  April 22, 2016
According to Arachne.org, this is an Orb-weaver and the family does not contain any species that are dangerous to humans.

Letter 3 – Unknown Spider from Indonesia: Coin Spider

 

Subject: Unidentified Spider
Location: Manglayang Mountain, West Java, Indonesia
March 2, 2013 2:07 pm
Hello Daniel,
I got another spider photo on 02/24/2013, It’s abdomen shape and color looks really beautiful.
he/she sits on a pine tree and the size is about 10 cm from toe to toe, first I found it on night hunting photos but I decide to take the picture again on the morning… and it still sits there on the same spot.
he/she does spins web, just like an orb but on the tree surface and he/she sits on the center.
Hope that you could help to identify this guy.
Signature: Mohamad Idham Iskandar

Unknown Spider
Coin Spider

Hi Mohamad,
This is a very interesting and distinctive spider, and though we cannot say for certain what family it belongs to, we do not believe it is an Orbweaver.  We will try to find an identification for you.  Alas, we are currently experiencing technical difficulty and we cannot post anything live to the site, so all additions are on hold until our webmaster returns to the office.

Karl provides an identification:
Hi Daniel and Mohamad:
This beautiful spider is a Golden Orb Weaver in the family Nephilidae (formerly grouped under the Araneidae and Tetragnathidae). The genus is Herennia, and it has an Australasian distribution (India to the Solomon Islands). This is a very small genus with only 11 known species, usually referred to as Coin Spiders, most of which have been described only within the last decade. The island of Java apparently has two species; H. multipuncta is widespread throughout South and Southeast Asia and H. etruscilla is endemic to Java. There are several online images of H. multipuncta and they don’t match the one in this post. The definitive paper on the genus is “A Revision of Herennia (Araneae: Nephilidae: Nephilinae), the Australasian ‘coin spiders’ “ by Kuntner (2005), in which both the detailed descriptions and photos of H. etruscilla provide a very good match to Mohamad’s spider. The unique webs are referred to as ladder webs and if you are interested in learning more you can check out another paper by Kuntner et al. (2009) [see: 9fcfd50cb81b07c8ae]. These spiders also exhibit some interesting sexual behavior. They demonstrate extreme sexual dimorphism, not unusual among spiders, but once engaged in copulation the males stay put, acting as a genital plug that prevents other males from fertilizing the female. In addition to Coin Spiders, common names also include Ornamental Step Ladder Spiders and Ornamental Tree Trunk Spiders. Thanks Mohamad, for a very interesting submission. Regards. Karl
p.s. Daniel, my computer seems to have difficulty with hyperlinks to pdf files. Let me know if the links to the Kuntner papers don’t work and I can send you the full addresses. Karl

Thanks Karl,
The link on the second Kuntner article from 2009 produced a file that we needed to save to our site and link that way.  If you can provide the entire link, we might be able to link directly.

 

Letter 4 – Unknown Spider from Australia looks like male Garden Orbweaver Spider

 

spider
January 28, 2010
we found this nice spider in our house, and now we do like to have more information about it 🙂
spider is 4-5 cm with all legs
Iwi
Australia, Sydney….my house 🙂

Male Garden Orbweaver Spider

Hi Iwi,
We have been unsuccessful in our attempts to identify your spider, and we hope that by posting it to our site, one of our readers will be able to identify it.

A comment that looks like it is correct:  Garden Spider
Do believe this to be Eriophora biapicata, though there seems to be extreme amounts of diversity even within the species itself…
reference http://esperancewildlife.blogspot.com/2009/06/garden-spider-eriophora-biapicata.html
lttlechkn

Thanks for the  link littlechkn.  There is one photo of a male Garden Spider, Eriophora biapicata, that looks nearly identical.  When we originally posted the photo, we thought it looked like an Orbweaver, but we weren’t certain.  We then verified that with another image of a male Eriophora biaphicata on the FindaSpider website of Australian Spiders.

Letter 5 – Western Spotted Orbweaver

 

Subject:  Spider?
Geographic location of the bug:  On my house
Date: 09/14/2017
Time: 10:17 PM EDT
It built a web across a large window. It was just sitting calmly against the window corner when I spotted it.
How you want your letter signed —
Lucy Lancaster

Orbweaver

Dear Lucy,
This is a harmless Orbweaver Spider, possibly a Western Spotted Orbweaver based on this BugGuide image, but since we don’t know if your house is in Australia or Los Angeles, we cannot be certain of the species.  Orbweaver are passive hunters that spin an orb web and then wait passively for prey to become ensnared.

Thank you Daniel!  I’m in Arizona 🙂
This spider is so colorful.  Sometimes I see it in the middle of the web and sometimes on the side.  So interesting!

Lucy Lancaster

Thanks for the update Lucy.  Your Arizona location lends credibility to our identification of the Western Spotted Orbweaver.

Letter 6 – Writing Spider from Taiwan

 

Subject: Spider in Taiwan
Location: Hsinchu County, Taiwan
January 22, 2017 6:29 am
Forgive me if this has already been asked. I live in the countryside of northern Taiwan and spend most mornings running through the hills and mountains as well as farm areas. I take photos as I go.
I have found a spider that seems to spin an x-shaped web. There are so many interesting insects I see in the mountains here that I can’t identify, but this has been the most interesting.
Thanks much for your time!
Signature: paulawanda

Orbweaver

Dear paulawanda,
This magnificent spider is an Orbweaver in the genus
Argiope.  Spiders in that genus are sometimes called Writing Spiders because of the elaborate designs, called stabilimenta, that are woven in their webs.  Many members of the genus are pictured on Wongchunxing.com where Argiope aetheroides looks like a good visual match to your individual.  Insectoid.info indicates “18 Species in Argiopinae for Taiwan listed.”

Orbweaver

Letter 7 – Unidentified Orb Weaver

 

black and orange in Virginia
I found this crawling across the blacktop at my house. I’ve been led to believe bright colors indicate poison, but, after reading your website, I have found that isn’t necessarily true. I saw some awful scary looking harmless spiders. Do you know what this is?
Sue

Hi Sue,
Sorry I can’t give you an exact species, but your orb weaver is harmless. We hope it is still alive.

Letter 8 – Unidentified Orb-Weavers

 

What type of spiders, with bumps on their backs?
Hello there,
When my mom first started putting some plants in her greenhouse earlier this year, We found a couple of small spiders, which appeared to have 2 horns / bumps on their backs… After the plants were done in the greenhouse, and we moved them out out, we thought the spiders left, but it seemed one moved around to the other side of the house, and a couple others appeared…
They’ve grown quite a bit, and were curious to what type of spiders they are? They are about 15 – 20 mm big…
Today I caught 2 flies for each of them, They were really quite fast at grabbing them and spinning them into a ball.
I tried to attach a couple of different angles of pictures I took, so you could see the bumps on its the back.
We live in Hanna, Alberta 🙂
Thanks, Zac

Hi Zac,
Sorry I don’t recognize your species, but I can tell you it is from the group known as Orb-Weavers. These spiders build a classicly shaped web and wait for prey. Keep feeding them flies and they will grow to maturity.

Letter 9 – Unknown Orb Weaver from New Zealand identified as Eriophora pustulosa

 

New Zealand Garden Orb Spider
Hi Bugman,
Found this fascinating Orb spider in my garden. It spins dark round shaped webs. Real cute looking face on it’s back. The design was so bizarre that my friend’s thought I did some photoshop trick on the picture. Has anyone come across such a pattern on an Orb spider?
Aylwin

Hi Aylwin,
We should be able to identify this distinctive Orb Weaver when we have time to web search. Perhaps a reader knows the species.

Update: (02/17/2007) ID on the Unknown orb weaver from New Zealand
Hi again guys, I looked up New Zealand Orb Weavers on-line, and I think this is one color variety of the common New Zealand Garden Orb Weaver spider, Eriophora pustulosa. For a close up view of a very similar individual with not quite as nice ‘face’ markings, click on the image at: http://www.americanarachnology.org/HiResGallery/orb_Eriophora_pustulosa.html According to Wikipedia, the orb weaver spider genus Eriophora is widespread and mostly tropical, occurring in the Americas, Australasia and Africa. Best to you,
Susan

Letter 10 – Unidentified Orbweaver from Costa Rica is Eriophora nephiloides

 

Costa Rican Mystery Spider. Orb Weaver?
May 12, 2010
Found this particular crawler in central Costa Rica, the web was about a meter off of the ground in the jungle. I can’t even describe how bright the lime green/yellow was on the abdomen. Something about it suggests an orb weaver (of unknown genus) to me. But I’m no expert.
Mike Cleveland
Central Costa Rica

Unidentified Orbweaver from Costa Rica

Dear Mike,
We agree that this is an Orbweaver, and it sure is gorgeous, but we are uncertain of the species.  We haven’t the time to research this right now, but we will post it as unidentified and hopefully our readership may have some suggestions.

Hi Daniel and Mike:
I photographed this same species when I was in Costa Rica this past winter (Osa Peninsula) and although I haven’t nailed down an identification yet I believe I am fairly close. I am fairly certain the genus is Eriophora (=Epeira) and the species may be E. nephiloides (Guatemala to Guyana). The one I found was located on the path to our cabina so I was able to observe it for several days. Its web was situated about a meter off the ground like yours, and I too was struck by the brilliant colors (the color can be quite variable and there is likely some sexual dimorphism as well). Such brightly colored spiders are usually diurnal but this one always remained well hidden during the day and only took up its position on the web at night. I noticed your photo looks like it may have been a flash shot, so perhaps yours was displaying similar behavior. I hope to find out a little more about it. Thanks for sharing the great photo.  K
http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Eriophora_nephiloides
http://www.geo.de/GEO/fotografie/fotogalerien/4105.html
http://www.flickr.com/photos/80125969@N00/259958681

 

Letter 11 – Spiders on Guam

 

Spider Explosion on Guam
Aloha Daniel –
No birds = masses of spiders between trees, etc.
Thought you’d find this article of interest.
http://www.futurity.org/top-stories/spiders-infest-guam-after-native-birds-disappear/
Eliza

Orbweavers from Guam

Hi Eliza,
Thanks for the link.  We are accompanying your submission with a pair of Orbweavers from Guam that we located in our archive.  They appear to be the same spiders in the article you submitted.

Hi again –
Glad you found the article of interest.
Yes, the appensas are very present here on Maui, so I am not surprised they are busy and very present on Guam.
Maluhia – peace

Letter 12 – Trashcan Spider

 

Dear Mr. Marlos:
I have several of these orb weaver spiders around my house that collect the carcasses of their prey and other jetsam and align it neatly in the center of its web. My question is, what is the function of this refuse structure? I can’t figure it out. Attached are some photos.
Yours sincerely,
Mark Kulkis

Trashcan Spider
Trashcan Spider

My Dear Mr. Kulkis,
Your orbweaver goes by the inglorious name of Trashcan Spider,
Cyclosa turbinata, and we identified it in that landmark text for local terrestrial Arthropods:  Insects of the Los Angeles Basin by Charles Hogue.  Hogue states:  “The resting place of the female of this spider in its web is distinctive:  it is a loose line of thick webbing upon which the female collects an odd assortment of trash, mainly the carcasses of old prey wrapped in defunct cocoons.  All of the web, except for the debris string, is dismantled each day, and the old web material is added to the trash pile.  The female spider itself is small (doby length about 1/4 in., or 6 mm) and may vary in color from a mixture of gray and white to almost solid black.  It has a disproportionately large bulbous abdomen with a prominent rearward protruding bump;  the spider’s eyes are on tubercles.”  Could you please get a photo of the eyes to add to this posting?  Based on Hogue’s description, we presume that the spider is camouflaged among the debris as a means of protection.    We also presume that the debris string acts as an anchor for the web which is respun each day.

Trashcan Spider
Trashcan Spider

Dear Mr. Marlos:
Thank you for the elucidation. I will do my best to capture Ms. Trashcan’s eye stalks on film.
Yours etc.
Mark Kulkis

Trashcan Spider
Trashcan Spider


Letter 13 – Spiny Crab Orbweaver from Borneo

 

Spider & Bug in Danum Valley Borneo
May 18, 2010
Hi,
We have recently returned from a trip to Sabah and in the rainforest we spotted a really odds spider and a large bug – can you help us identify what they are?
Sam
Danum Valley, Sabah, Borneo

Spiny Crab Orbweaver

Hi Sam,
We quickly identified your spectacular spider as Spiny Crab Orbweaver, Gasteracantha arcuata, on the Gallery of Spider Species of Borneo website.  The only information is that it is “the most famous spiny crab orbweaver from Borneo.”  The Guide to Common Singapore Spider website calls it the Curved Spiny Spider and indicates:  “Spiders of the Gasteracantha genus build vertical orb-webs with an open hub which are easily recognised. They have a hard, flat body armed with three pairs of spines on the edge of the abdomen. The spinnerets are elevated on a large projection and surrounded by a sclerotised ring-like structure
” and that is is recorded from “Singapore (new record), East Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand , Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India.”  Your second identification request is some species of Katydid, but the photo is too blurry to be able to identify the species.

Hi that’s great.  Thank you so much for your help!
Sam

Letter 14 – Spinybacked Orbweaver

 

Spider wearing a tiki mask?
Location: Bastrop, Texas
November 22, 2010 8:58 am
Came across this spider while hiking through central TX.
We have never seen anything like it, of course it peaked our interest as to what it was? So we’re sendng it your way!
Signature: The Wroblewski’s

Spinybacked Orbweaver

Dear Wroblewskis,
During the autumn season, we get numerous requests to identify many different species of harmless Orbweaver Spiders because they have matured and reached maximum size, making them highly visible.  Additionally, Orbweaver Spiders often have bright colors and dramatic markings.  Your Orbweaver is a Spinybacked Orbweaver, Gasteracantha cancriformis, and though it is considerably smaller than other Orbweavers like the members of the genera Argiope and Araneus, it is still a stunning spider.

Letter 15 – Spotted Orbweaver

 

Subject: Beautiful Spider
Location: No. California
August 15, 2014 11:29 am
This beauty appeared last summer and “hung” around about a month.
Our friends in a neighboring community had one too.
I have not seen one previously or since.
Other than Orb Weaver haven’t been able to put a name to it.
Can you?
Signature: Rod Tidemann

Orbweaver
Spotted Orbweaver

Dear Rod,
Your letter fills us with enthusiasm immediately after we posted a query and image that resulted in Unnecessary Carnage rather than an appreciation of the beauty of the natural world.  We are relatively certain this is a Spotted Orbweaver or Barn Spider,
Neoscona crucifera, and you can compare your image to this image on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide, they:  “build thier webs at dusk and then take the webs back down around dawn.”  Thanks for also supplying us with a ventral view, and as you can see, the pattern on the underside of the body also matches this Spotted Orbweaver that is pictured on BugGuide.

Spotted Orbweaver
Spotted Orbweaver

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for your quick and enthusiastic response.  A Barn Spider  I.D. takes me back to when I was a lad growing up on the farm and we actually had Barn Spiders in the barn.  They were numerous and huge.  Of course I was a small boy and most things were huge. They were fascinating.  Unfortunately most of our spiders around here are either “Daddy Longlegs” or Black Widows; Less  fascinating.
Thanks
Wonderful work
Rod

Letter 16 – Starbellied Orbweaver

 

Subject: Unknown bug (Duh…..; ) )
Location: Pasadena, MD
September 5, 2015 11:15 am
Found on August 11th, 2015 about 9:00 AM just East of Baltimore, MD. For size reference, insect is perched on an air hose that’s approximately 3/4″ wide. I am disappointed that I did not provoke the insect so as to get other pictures. Original picture was taken by me with my phone. There was no significant web present.
Signature: -Dags

Starbellied Orbweaver
Starbellied Orbweaver

Dear Dags,
We immediately recognized your spider as an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae, but we needed to research the species, and we quickly located a close match with the Starbellied Orbweaver,
Acanthepeira stellata, images posted to BugGuide.  According to BugGuide it is found in:  “Sunny areas, usually within four feet of the ground in an orb web built in the vertical position.”  We are very excited as this represents a new species to our site.

 

Letter 17 – Thick-Jawed Orbweaver

 

Subject:  What kind of spider is this (if, indeed, it is a spider)
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern Illinois
Date: 09/30/2017
Time: 02:59 PM EDT
This critter has been hanging out on our back sliding door.
How you want your letter signed:  Just curious…

Male Thick-Jawed Orbweaver

Dear Just curious,
Based on this BugGuide image, we are quite confident you encountered a male Thick-Jawed Orbweaver in the genus
Pachygnatha.

Male Thick-Jawed Orbweaver

Letter 18 – Trashline Orbweaver from Canada

 

Subject: is this a moth caterpillar
Location: Pike Lake, near Perth Ontario
February 21, 2016 3:11 pm
photographed July 15, 2015 close to the ground near Perth Ontario
approx. 2″ in length
what species?
Signature: dalep

Spider with Web
Spider with Web

Dear dalep,
We cannot locate a Caterpillar in the image you provided, however there is what appears to be a Spider resting at the lower left hand point of the structure that appears in your image.  We are speculating that the structure is either a series of egg sacs or part of the web where prey has been snared.  We are going to continue to research the identity of this spider.  We believe this might be a Trashline Orbweaver that Eric Eaton profiled on Bug Eric.  Here is an image from BugGuide of
Cyclosa turbinata.  According to BugGuide, another member of the genus Cyclosa conica, is found in your area.

Spider with Web
Spider with Web

Letter 19 – Unidentified Orbweaver

 

Subject: Red abdomen spider in Michigan!
Location: Great Lakes state!
October 20, 2012 5:31 pm
Found this spider October 20, 2012. It was 50 degrees outside. It’s clearly bigger than a quarter. When fully expanded I’d say its about the size of a half dollar. Reddish orange abdomen.
Signature: Dmitry from MI

Orbweaver

Hi Dmitry,
This is an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae, but we have not had any luck searching BugGuide for a species identification.

Letter 20 – Unknown Malaysian Orbweaver: Neogea nocticolor

 

Help with an ID on this spider please
Hello and greetings from Malaysia. Fabulous site, I find it extremely handy when I need to ID some spider shots I’ve snapped. I was strolling around my house and saw an interesting looking web high up the pine trees. Grabbed the ladder and snapped this guy. He/she is about 1.5cm wide, and is gold, black and white in color. Initially thought it was some sort of garden orb weaver, but I’ve yet to come across a sample resembling this one. Some have told me it could even be a new species, which would be extremely cool if that was the case. Thanks lots, looking forward to a reply.
Izuan

Hi Izuan,
We do not recognize your amazing looking spider, which is definitely one of the Orb Weavers. Not only is the spider unusual, the stabilimentum portion of the web is unlike any we have seen. Perhaps one of our readers has time to research this beauty.

Update: (06/10/2007)
I tried to ID the Unkknown [sic] Malaysian Orbweaver (04/18/2007) but I was not able to get very far with it. However, I wanted to let Izuan know that there is a book which he might find very helpful: An Introduction to the Spiders of South East Asia, With Notes on All the Genera, by Frances and John Murphy, 2000. Malaysian Nature Society, P.O. Box 10750, 50724 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The book is 625 pages with a bunch of color plates, and yet it only costs US $34! What a deal! I think you can order it directly from the Malaysian Nature Society. Their website with detailed contact info is at: http://www.mns.org.my/
Susan

Thanks for the link Susan. When we coyly posted the comment about one of our readers identifying this specimen, we were thinking of you and were very sad when you didn’t write back at the time. We have also corrected the typographical error.

Update:  February 24, 2013
Thanks to a comment from Chun Xing Wong, we now know that this Orbweaver is
Neogea nocticolor, and since this was posted many years ago, there are additional photos and information available on the internet, including this Nature Love You page.

Letter 21 – Unknown Orbweaver

 

orb spider?
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
November 14, 2011 12:33 am
I’m having trouble identifying this guy. it appears to be an orb spider, but I’m hoping you can pinpoint it.
Signature: -Brian A.

Unknown Orbweaver

Hi Brian,
Many Orbweavers are highly variable.  We are uncertain of the exact species but we are confident that this is a member of the genus
Araneus.  See BugGuide for the possibilities.

Letter 22 – Unknown Orbweaver from Africa

 

orb-weaver?
Location: Gulf of Guinea, West/Central Africa
July 19, 2011 7:31 am
I have many photos from a trip to Bioko, Equatorial Guinea. I’ve been floating around this picture in hopes of identifying this spider but most of Invertebrates I photographed have been very difficult to ID. Please have a look if you can:
Signature: Thanks, Nathanael

Please resend and attach the spider photo.  We cannot grab the image from FlickR and we want to post the image before we begin the research.

Here you go.  Could you please give attribution if you post the photo.  Would you like me to send all of the photos I have questions about?

Unknown Orbweaver

Hi Nathanael,
This is sure one interesting Spider.  We agree it is most likely one of the Orbweavers, but we don’t even have a clue at the genus.  As you might have realized, researching African bugs doesn’t always produce satisfactory results.  We are posting your letter and image and we hope eventually we will get an identification.

Letter 23 – Unknown Orbweaver from Nepal

 

Unknown Silver-Black Spider from Nepal
Location: Nepal, Bandipur
December 22, 2011 12:51 pm
Could you help to identify this big spider?
May be a Silver Orb Spider ???
Found: 18. Oct. 2011, on an external, insect-trapping web.
Signature: Jürgen J. Müller

Orbweaver

Hello Jürgen,
Our research did not turn up anything conclusive.  We agree that this is an Orbweaver, and it might be in the genus
Argiope.  Perhaps in the future, we will be able to provide a more specific identification.

Letter 24 – Walnut Orbweaver from the UK

 

Subject:  What is this spider.
Geographic location of the bug:  London UK
Date: 01/13/2018
Time: 04:09 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What’s this one called? Less than size of 5p.
How you want your letter signed:  Steve

Walnut Orbweaver

Dear Steve,
This is a harmless Orbweaver in the family Araneidae, and its black coloration is quite unusual.  We quickly identified it on UK Safari as a Walnut Orbweaver,
Nuctenea umbratica.  According to the site:  “Found mostly under the bark of dead trees, garden sheds, washing lines, and sometimes show up inside houses” and “Walnut Orb-weavers are quite timid and usually only venture out at night.  As the name suggests they catch their prey in a web.”  According to Euro Spiders:  “The Walnut orb-weaver, Nuctenea umbratica, is quite flat. It hides under cracks in the bark of trees during the days and spins a small orb web in the night. It can sustain as low temperatures as minus 19 degrees Celsius.”

Letter 25 – White Orbweaver

 

What is this Spider
One day while cleaning my garage with the help of two mormon missionaries… ( I think I am drawing away the point here) we found a very different looking spider . I have been trying to identify it but I just don’t know if I am right. So here I send you some pics thanks in advance
Kelly Langner

Hi Kelly,
We have been getting numerous requests for the identification of Orb Weaver Spiders lately. In the autumn, the spiders are large and attract attention. Many are very difficult for us to identify to the species level because we lack the skill and often there is much variability within the species and often different species look very similar. This is probably in the genus Araneus, and it might be the Lattice Spider, Araneus thaddeus. There is a white specimen pictured on BugGuide. Also, if Mormon missionaries were assisting you, you might be anywhere in the world.

Letter 26 – White Orbweaver

 

Big White Spider
Location:  Penrose, CO
October 6, 2010 6:43 pm
I found this guy hanging out in the eaves of my Aunt’s porch in Colorado. I don’t think it’s intentions were harmful, but I never walked under those eaves anymore!
Signature:  Freaked Out

Orbweaver

Dear Freaked Out,
Orbweavers in the genus
Araneus are perfectly harmless to humans.  We cannot give you an exact species name for this lovely white specimen of a highly variable genus with several highly variable species, though if we were betting, we would place our money on the Marbled Araneus, Araneus marmoreus.  BugGuide has an information page on the species that shows some of the many variations.

Letter 27 – Who Smashed the Golden Orbweaver???

 

Poisonous?!
Location: New England
August 30, 2011 7:32 am
I found this spider dead and was unsure if it is poisonous or not. I have never seen it around here before and it makes me think it’s dangerous. I have young kids and am worried. Please respond quickly!!! Thank you,
Signature: A Ditressed Homeowner

Smashed Golden Orbweaver

Dear Distressed Homeowner,
All Spiders have poison, but very few are considered dangerous to humans.  Spiders are not generally inclined to bite people unless they are carelessly handled or threatened.  This stately Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia, was a magnificent spider prior to being squashed.  Golden Orbweavers are not considered to be dangerous spiders.  Often people will smash spiders and insects because they are of the opinion that is it “just a bug” which we find quite troubling.  We cannot claim that a Golden Orbweaver would not bite a person or a small child, but Orbweavers rarely leave their webs, and if they do leave their webs, it is most likely that they were forced to leave their webs.  Conscientious gardeners will leave an Orbweaver in the garden, knowing where it has spun its web.  The Golden Orbweaver was the inspiration for the classic children’s story Charlotte’s Web.

Dear Bugman,
Thank you very much. The Golden Orbweaver was dead when I discovered it, but when I moved it to take a picture it got slightly squashed. I understand your concern and agree, bugs are very mistreated.

We Stand Corrected
All spiders do not have venom.
August 30, 2011 11:12 pm
Thank you for your interesting web site – I have been visiting it for many years now.
Just one query pls. Your regularly indicate that “All Spiders have poison”.
I was taught at varsity that the family Uloboridae does not have venom glands and the members are therefore not venomous. Was I taught wrong?
Regards
Deon, Pretoria, South Africa
Signature: Deon

Hi Deon,
Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention.  As we have stated in numerous locations on our website, we do not have science backgrounds, but rather, we are visual artists who have an interest in the lower beasts.  We decided to research this a bit, and have now learned that there is at least one family of spiders, Uloboridae as you have pointed out, that does not have venom.  According to BugGuide, these Cribellate Orbweavers or Hackle-band Orbweavers  are “unique among spiders in our area in having no venom at all.”  The Spiders of Australia website has a nice page on them that also points out  “Uloborid spiders are unusual in having no poison glands. They rely completely on wrapping their prey in silk.”  Alas, we doubt that we will have the time to make this correction in every location on our website, but we will be sure to not make this error again.

 

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

29 thoughts on “Types of Orb Weavers: Discovering Nature’s Skilled Architects”

  1. My god! I live in upstate new york and I just saw a VERY simialar spider yesterday on the porch. I took pictures of it, It looks like a Dolophones Conifera. But I didn’t think they lived outside Australia! What the heck?

    http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii279/rudolphna/DSC03488.jpg

    http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii279/rudolphna/DSC03494.jpg

    http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii279/rudolphna/DSC03494.jpg

    http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii279/rudolphna/DSC03502.jpg

    Reply
  2. It looks to me like a Wolf spider – Several different species in Australia, and many of them in the Sydney area. Would you be able to tell me if you got a good look at its eyes? If it has 2 large eyes (like a jumping spider) I would be almost certain that its a wolf spider.

    Reply
  3. You don’t have to go through all those trouble.
    This is a Neogea nocticolor.
    The web of these spiders are always decorated with spiral and circular patterns.
    Fun fact: This spider has a “trapdoor” in the center of it’s web, enabling it travel to the other side of the web within a fraction of a second. I am currently studying the secret of it’s “backdoor”. Oh, don’t worry about that book, I will try to acquire it since I am partly a member of that society.

    Reply
  4. I live on Guam and always see little spiders no bigger then a penny. They jump and are very quick. Always hanging out on my balcony walls and I see.them down at the pool. They are usually grey with white and black markings or tan. Any idea of what they might be?

    Reply
  5. A spider, about the size of a quarter including its legs, jumped from the top of my compost litter when I opened the lid. Obviously startled by the light and not wanting the sun (or me?) it scurrried under the compost bin and I could not find it again. My compost has a very large amount of leaf, weed & grass, some rotting veg food. Spider had a huge abdomen that almost obscured what seemed to be rather thick (furry?) legs, so it seemed to be carrying that abdomen vertically above her. In the shade looked medium brown, a little fuzzy all over tho I did not have my much-needed glasses on, never seen such before. My profession has me opening a lot of equipment that contains mostly brown widows – was not the brown widow and seems too large an abdomen and different shape for a recluse (hopefully??). Will try to bring my phone next daylight compost trip for a picture, but if you have any suggestions would love to hear from you. I thought maybe the cat-faced, but is this its range (Hobe Sound FL)? I live in basically altered scrub habitat. Most neighbors irrigate and manicure, but my yard is going drier every day with patchy oases and a few larger trees that are intended to eventually hold their own on this old, old sand bar. The composts are under a mango tree. I hope all that helps for habitat description. Is the cat-faced in this area of FL? May all be wishful thinking against the recluse.

    Reply
  6. Got a little bite from one of these today whilst gardening.
    No effect with the bite, but I’m glad I found this point so I knew what it was.

    Reply
  7. Got a little bite from one of these today whilst gardening.
    No effect with the bite, but I’m glad I found this point so I knew what it was.

    Reply
  8. Thanks for taking the time to let me know! It really is a magnificent creature. You have a great site and it is much appreciated. Happy Chinese New Year!
    Best,
    paula

    Reply
  9. Thanks for taking the time to let me know! It really is a magnificent creature. You have a great site and it is much appreciated. Happy Chinese New Year!
    Best,
    paula

    Reply
  10. I seem to begin to be almost over run with these orb weavers. Have seen and disposed of many in the last month. They are the type with the GREEN SPOT on the abdomen. They look a lot like the “bad guys” we have here in Florida. This spider looks like the first picture on this post except the abdomen has a large green “dot” instead of a mild brownish gold pictured. Can You please confirm this genus is indeed non poisonous. I live in the wooded part of the county and have many oak and pine trees around. I keep the yard pretty well mowed. The First ones I found were on my screened in front porch and the last one I got was in my hall bath today (8/27/17). Does this sound like an infestation that I need to worry about or should I just keep “clearing” them as they appear? I am located in Polk County near Lakeland and Winter Haven, FL.
    Thank you for your time.
    Respectfully,
    Frank

    Reply
  11. I seem to begin to be almost over run with these orb weavers. Have seen and disposed of many in the last month. They are the type with the GREEN SPOT on the abdomen. They look a lot like the “bad guys” we have here in Florida. This spider looks like the first picture on this post except the abdomen has a large green “dot” instead of a mild brownish gold pictured. Can You please confirm this genus is indeed non poisonous. I live in the wooded part of the county and have many oak and pine trees around. I keep the yard pretty well mowed. The First ones I found were on my screened in front porch and the last one I got was in my hall bath today (8/27/17). Does this sound like an infestation that I need to worry about or should I just keep “clearing” them as they appear? I am located in Polk County near Lakeland and Winter Haven, FL.
    Thank you for your time.
    Respectfully,
    Frank

    Reply
  12. Found this spider and did a bit of watching goes after other web building spiders the garden orb seems to be on it’s menu or mating can’t really help out here but a strange spider indeed

    Reply

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