Western Spotted Orbweaver: Quick Facts for Curious Minds

The Western Spotted Orbweaver is a fascinating species of spider that you might find intriguing. Belonging to the Neoscona genus, these little creatures are commonly found throughout various geographic regions in the United States. In this article, we aim to offer insight into their habitats, characteristics, and more.

You might be curious about what sets these spiders apart from others. Well, as their name suggests, Western Spotted Orbweavers possess unique markings on their slightly triangular-ovate abdomens. This pattern, resembling an upside-down spruce tree, makes them quite easy to identify. Additionally, they are known for creating beautiful, intricate orb-shaped webs.

Throughout this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the Western Spotted Orbweaver and gain even deeper knowledge of these fascinating creatures. So, prepare to be amazed by this captivating species and their distinctive characteristics!

What Is Western Spotted Orbweaver?

The Western Spotted Orbweaver is a fascinating spider belonging to the kingdom Animalia and the genus Neoscona. As part of the arthropod phylum, this spider is closely related to insects. So, you may wonder what sets the Western Spotted Orbweaver apart from other spiders and what makes it unique? You’ll find some interesting facts below.

First, let’s talk about its appearance. The Western Spotted Orbweaver typically has a slightly triangular-ovate abdomen, which features a pattern resembling an upside-down spruce tree (source). While not all Neoscona species can be easily distinguished, they all share this intriguing trait.

Being an orb-weaving spider, it creates circular webs to capture its prey. You’ll often see Western Spotted Orbweavers in gardens, fields, and forests. They’re known for making impressive, large webs, which grow bigger in the fall (source). These webs primarily help them catch flying insects like butterflies, moths, dragonflies, damselflies, midges, mosquitos, and flies (source).

To summarize, the Western Spotted Orbweaver is:

  • A member of the kingdom Animalia, genus Neoscona
  • Characterized by a triangular-ovate abdomen with a unique pattern
  • An orb-weaving spider found in various outdoor habitats
  • Known for its large, circular webs that catch a variety of flying insects

Scientific Classification

Taxonomic Hierarchy

The Western Spotted Orbweaver, or Neoscona oaxacensis, is a fascinating spider that belongs to the Animalia kingdom. Here is a brief overview of its taxonomic hierarchy:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Family: Araneidae
  • Genus: Neoscona
  • Species: Neoscona oaxacensis

As a member of the Araneidae family, the Western Spotted Orbweaver is closely related to other orb-weaving spiders. These spiders are characterized by their distinct spinning behaviors and the intricate web patterns they create.

When trying to identify this particular species of spider, you’ll want to pay close attention to its unique features. Some key characteristics include:

  • Slightly triangular-ovate abdomen
  • Pattern resembling an upside-down spruce tree
  • Large abdomen overlapping the cephalothorax

The Western Spotted Orbweaver can be found in a variety of habitats, such as gardens, fields, and forests. They usually emerge during spring and can be more noticeable in the fall as they and their webs grow in size.

Physical Characteristics

Spider Anatomy

The Western Spotted Orbweaver has a unique appearance that sets it apart from other spiders. They possess a slightly triangular-ovate abdomen with a pattern resembling an upside-down spruce tree. On each side of this pattern, there are also distinctive spots that give this spider its name.

  • Color: Western Spotted Orbweavers have a mix of earthy tones such as browns and grays, which assists in camouflage.
  • Carapace: The carapace, or cephalothorax, is the region where the legs and mouthparts are attached. It is slightly overlapped by the abdomen in these spiders.
  • Legs: The legs of the Western Spotted Orbweaver can vary in size, but the third pair of legs is usually about half as long as the other legs.

Gender Differences

There are some notable differences between female and male Western Spotted Orbweavers:

  • Female: Females have larger bodies, growing up to an inch or more in length. They also tend to have a more distinct color pattern on their abdomen, helping them blend in with their surroundings while guarding their eggs.
  • Male: Males are significantly smaller than females, making them appear more delicate. They have less prominent markings on their abdomen and have thinner, more slender legs.

As you observe Western Spotted Orbweavers, keep these characteristics in mind to help identify these fascinating creatures. Enjoy discovering more about their anatomy, gender differences, and their unique place in the world of spiders.

Behavior and Lifespan

The Web

The Western Spotted Orbweaver is known for its beautiful and intricate webs. These spiders spin their webs mainly to catch prey, which consists of various flying insects like butterflies, moths, and flies. As their name suggests, orbweavers create circular, wheel-like webs that are both strong and elastic.

You might find their webs in gardens or other areas with plenty of insect activity. An interesting fact about these spiders is that they’re not venomous, so you don’t have to worry about potentially dangerous bites.

Lifespan

When it comes to their lifespan, Western Spotted Orbweavers live for about one year. During this time, they grow, reproduce, and contribute to controlling insect populations in their environment. As the seasons change, especially in the fall, you might notice their webs and the spiders themselves getting bigger due to their increasing maturity.

Habitat and Range

The Western Spotted Orbweaver is a fascinating spider species found in various regions across the Americas. Some of the key areas where they are found include North and South America, the United States, Mexico, Canada, Kansas, California, New Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, and even the Galápagos Islands.

In these areas, you can find them residing in different habitats, ranging from forests and grasslands to urban gardens and parks. They usually prefer moist and warm environments where they can find an abundance of insects for prey.

A few examples of their preferred locations are:

  • Woodland edges in California
  • Streamside vegetation in Kansas
  • Urban gardens in Mexico

Here are some key distinctions between their habitats and range:

Location Habitat Type Prey Abundance Climate
North America Forests, grasslands High Temperate
South America Tropical forests High Tropical
Galápagos Islands Unique ecosystems Moderate Equatorial

It’s essential to know your local spider species to help preserve their habitats and maintain a healthy ecosystem. By understanding the Western Spotted Orbweaver’s habitat preference, you can better appreciate these fascinating creatures and their role in the environment.

Diet

The Western Spotted Orbweaver is known for its unique diet, consisting mostly of flying insects that get trapped in their webs. By building intricate webs, these spiders can catch various prey ranging from butterflies and moths to dragonflies, damselflies, midges, mosquitos, and flies1. As a Western Spotted Orbweaver, you depend on these insects to fulfill your dietary needs.

In terms of the hunting strategy, setting up webs to catch prey is quite efficient. You weave your webs mostly during night time when flying insects are typically more active. Your webs are designed to catch different sizes of insects, giving you a diverse range of food sources. Moreover, you are patient and efficient when it comes to catching your prey – you wait for your web to do the work, and once an insect gets trapped, you quickly move to immobilize and consume it.

Here is a brief summary of the Western Spotted Orbweaver’s diet:

  • Mostly consists of flying insects
  • Includes butterflies, moths, dragonflies, damselflies, midges, mosquitos, and flies
  • Builds webs to catch prey
  • Webs are designed for various insect sizes
  • Hunts primarily at night
  • Patient and efficient hunting strategy

In conclusion, the Western Spotted Orbweaver’s diet emphasizes catching and consuming flying insects by weaving intricate webs. This strategy allows them to have a diverse and plentiful food source, contributing to their success as a species.

How to Identify

You may wonder how to identify a Western Spotted Orbweaver. This spider is quite unique, and there are some key identification aspects you should focus on. To help you spot this arachnid, let’s look at its features and how to use a guide for identification.

First, the Western Spotted Orbweaver has a distinct appearance which makes it distinguishable from other spiders. Some of its notable characteristics include:

  • An oval abdomen with a distinct pattern of cream-colored spots on a dark background
  • Legs with alternating bands of light and dark colors
  • A body size of around 0.35 to 0.9 inches (9 to 23 mm) in length

Be aware that juvenile Western Spotted Orbweavers might have a slightly different appearance, with less defined markings on their abdomen. Therefore, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the various stages of their development.

In order to accurately identify the Western Spotted Orbweaver, referring to a guide or key can be beneficial. One such source is the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service’s website, which provides detailed information on the spider’s physical characteristics, habitat, and geographic range. Guides and keys often include images and descriptions that will help you recognize the Western Spotted Orbweaver easily.

Finally, always consider the spider’s habitat when trying to identify it. Western Spotted Orbweavers are commonly found in warm, open areas such as shrubs and trees, where they weave their webs to catch prey. If you come across a spider in an environment that matches the typical habitat of the Western Spotted Orbweaver, you’re one step closer to a correct identification.

By following these tips and using the available resources, you can effectively differentiate the Western Spotted Orbweaver from other spiders in your area. Happy spider hunting!

Reproduction

Egg Laying

Female Western Spotted Orbweavers produce eggs after mating with males. They typically create an egg sac to protect the eggs from predators and environmental factors. You might find these egg sacs attached to nearby vegetation or within the spider’s web.

  • Eggs are laid in clusters
  • Egg sacs can vary in size

Spiderlings

After a period of time, the eggs will hatch into spiderlings. These young spiders are tiny versions of their adult counterparts and will go through several molts as they grow.

  • Spiderlings disperse from the egg sac using a technique called ballooning
  • They feed on small insects while they grow

As you observe Western Spotted Orbweavers in their natural habitat, you will gain a better understanding of their fascinating reproductive process. From the careful laying of eggs to the emergence of young spiderlings ready to take on the world, these spiders demonstrate an impressive commitment to the survival of their species.

The Importance of Western Spotted Orbweaver

Western Spotted Orbweavers play a significant role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. These spiders are commonly found in gardens, where they reduce insect populations. By capturing and consuming various flying insects including:

  • Butterflies
  • Moths
  • Dragonflies
  • Damselflies
  • Midges
  • Mosquitoes
  • Flies

These spiders contribute to preserving the balance in their environment.

In autumn, Western Spotted Orbweavers become more noticeable, as they spin larger webs to catch even more insects. Larger webs provide better opportunities for catching prey, ensuring the spiders can survive and reproduce successfully. As a result, these spiders perform a natural pest-control service in your garden.

Encouraging Western Spotted Orbweavers to live in your garden aids in supporting a diverse natural world. Their presence attracts other species, imbuing the space with a rich variety of plant and animal life. The interdependence between different species is essential for sustaining the web of life.

In summary, Western Spotted Orbweavers not only contribute to keeping insect populations in check but also serve as vital components in maintaining a biodiverse and healthy ecosystem. Embrace these spiders as valuable allies in your quest for a flourishing garden.

Resources for Further Learning

In your quest to learn more about the Western Spotted Orbweaver, several resources can help you dive deeper into the world of spiders.

The World Spider Catalog is an excellent starting point. This extensive online database contains information on thousands of spider species, including the Western Spotted Orbweaver. You can search by scientific name to find details about their taxonomy and distribution.

Another valuable resource is BugGuide. Run by Iowa State University, this website offers a wealth of information about arthropods. You can browse photographs, species descriptions, and even participate in discussions with other arthropod enthusiasts.

Visiting your local extension office is another way to gain more knowledge about spiders in your area. Extension offices often have experts who can help identify species and give advice on how to deal with them if they become a problem in your home or garden.

Here are some features you might find interesting about the Western Spotted Orbweaver:

  • Orb-shaped webs
  • Distinctive black and white markings on their abdomen
  • Primarily nocturnal behavior
  • Helps control insect populations

If you’re interested in comparing the Western Spotted Orbweaver to other spider species, you can use the following resources:

Remember to keep your research friendly, accurate, and concise. By using these resources, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a Western Spotted Orbweaver expert!

Conclusion

In the world of spiders, the Western Spotted Orbweaver is an interesting species to learn about. As their name suggests, they have a unique appearance with spots adorning their bodies. They can be found in various habitats like gardens, fields, and forests.

These orbweavers are particularly skilled at weaving intricate webs to catch their prey. In fact, their primary diet consists of flying insects that get trapped in their webs, such as butterflies, moths, and mosquitoes.

Although they may look intimidating, it’s important to remember that Western Spotted Orbweavers are generally harmless to humans. So, next time you encounter one of these fascinating creatures, take a moment to admire their beauty and intricate web designs.

References and Citations

When researching the Western Spotted Orbweaver, it’s crucial to use reliable sources. One highly recommended reference is the Purdue OWL® for learning APA citation and formatting style. This resource offers guidelines on in-text citation and reference pages. Additionally, it provides APA sample papers and slide presentations.

For in-text citations in particular when using APA style, follow the author-date method. This means that the author’s last name and the year of publication should appear in the text like (Jones, 1998) OWL® – Purdue University.

If you prefer using MLA style, the MLA Formatting and Style Guide can provide similar assistance as the previously mentioned APA resource. It covers guidelines for the Works Cited page and in-text citations.

In case you’re looking for quick citation examples, the APA Quick Citation Guide is useful. It emphasizes the importance of matching each in-text citation to a corresponding entry in your reference list. Remember, the author’s last name and the year of publication are essential components of in-text citations (Field, 2005).

Lastly, a PDF Guide from APA Style can provide examples of common APA references. With these resources, you’ll have no trouble citing and crediting sources as you dive into learning about the Western Spotted Orbweaver.

When writing in a friendly tone, remember to:

  • Keep your sentences short and to the point
  • Include examples where relevant
  • Break up text into short paragraphs of one or two sentences
  • Use bulleted lists for features and characteristics
  • Create comparison tables if applicable
  • Make sure your information is accurate and not exaggerated
  • Use second-person point of view (you, your, etc.)

Terms and Conditions

When exploring the fascinating world of the Western Spotted Orbweaver, it’s essential to understand and comply with certain terms and conditions. These guidelines often relate to copyright, contact, terms of use, privacy statement, site map, licensing, and usage information.

Copyright: All information, images, and content about the Western Spotted Orbweaver available online may be subject to copyright protection. Ensure you respect and acknowledge the original creators by citing your source or obtaining permission when necessary.

Contact: Most websites and organizations provide a contact section for inquiries about the Western Spotted Orbweaver. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or concerns.

Terms of Use: Be sure to read and understand the terms of use provided on websites regarding the Western Spotted Orbweaver. This will ensure you’re aware of any restrictions or specific guidelines for using the content.

Privacy Statement: When visiting websites or engaging with organizations, pay attention to their privacy statement about the Western Spotted Orbweaver. They often contain information about how they handle your data and any consent you give.

Site Map: Navigating websites can be much more manageable using a site map. It lays out the organization of content to help you easily find information about the Western Spotted Orbweaver.

Licensing: Some content about the Western Spotted Orbweaver may require licenses for specific use or distribution. Be mindful of licensing requirements before using materials.

Usage Information: If you plan to use the content about the Western Spotted Orbweaver, check the usage information that outlines any permissions or restrictions.

In summary, when exploring the Western Spotted Orbweaver, make sure you comply with the applicable terms and conditions. This will not only ensure your research stays within legal boundaries but also show respect for the authors of the content.

Footnotes

  1. Utah State Parks – Antelope Island Spider Festival

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 – Western Spotted Orbweaver

 

Busy Spider
Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 3:39 PM
Hello,
This is a photo from a coworker who spotted this spider weaving its web in his garden. We have the same spider in front of our office building and everyone is curious to know what kind of spider it is. The dimensions are about 3″ in length with legs spread. Any thoughts?
Curious
San Diego, California

Western Spotted Orbweaver
Western Spotted Orbweaver

Dear Curious,
We just posted a very lengthy response to a person from Texas who sent a photo of a Barn Spider. In that response, we waxed near impossibility of accurately identifying many spiders in the genera Neoscona and Araneus because of individual variations. We also posed the possibility of hybridization as geographically distinct populations come into contact with one another thanks to the global travel that so many people enjoy. Typically, young spiderlings can disperse as far as the wind will carry them, but now spiderlings can travel across the country or around the world with luggage. We also believe that what taxonomists have classified as distinct species may actually be subspecies capable of interbreeding. With all that now stated again, and more concisely, we do believe you have Neoscona oaxacensis, the Western Spotted Orbweaver, but we may be wrong. It would be much safer for us to just say you have an Orbweaver.

Letter 2 – Western Spotted Orbweaver

 

Two Questions
Location: Long Beach
September 23, 2011 4:06 pm
Dear Daniel,
I love bugs and love this site so much. I find myself lost in the archives of such fascinating images and information often. I write for a collaborative blog called A COLLECTION OF (www.collectionof.org) I am going to be posting about an orb weaver (attached) and wondered if might be interested in doing an interview with us. (if you are I can send you the questions) We would be so thrilled to have you on the blog! Either way – if you can help in identifying this spider that would be great! I hope to be posting soon in conjunction with the spider pavilion exhibition.
Signature: All the best, Stefani

Western Spotted Orbweaver

Hi Stefani,
We sometimes have difficulty identifying the many different species of Orbweavers, but we believe this is the Western Spotted Orbweaver,
Neoscona oaxacensis, which Charles Hogue, in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, wrote is “our most common orbweaver; in late summer and fall, its moderate=sized webs adorn gardens everywhere in the basin.”  Thanks for your compliment.  Send your questions our way and we will try our best to answer them.

Letter 3 – Western Spotted Orbweaver

 

What’s that spider?
Location: El Monte, CA
October 30, 2011 12:33 am
A small spider outside my window. Curious to learn what species.
Thanks Bugman!!
Signature: Arachnophobic Arachnophile

Western Spotted Orbweaver

Dear Arachnophobic Arachnophile,
You are such a contradiction in terms.  We believe your spider is a Western Spotted Orbweaver,
Neoscona oaxacensis, and you can verify that by comparing your individual to photos posted to BugGuide.

Western Spotted Orbweaver

 

Letter 4 – Western Spotted Orbweaver

 

Subject: Black Orb Weaver
Location: San Diego, CA
October 30, 2013 9:57 am
Need scientific name for this unusual black orb weaver with gold specs on its abdomen.
Signature: Donna Walker – Writer/Trail Guide
Hearts Pest Management Writer/Blogger

Western Spotted Orbweaver
Western Spotted Orbweaver

Hi Donna,
We believe we have correctly identified your spider as a highly variable Western Spotted Orbweaver,
Neoscona oaxacensis.  We first found a photo on Mokka mit Schlag blog, and we verified the identification on BugGuide.

Letter 5 – Western Spotted Orbweaver

 

Subject: Spider Tucson
Location: urban Tucson, AZ
November 11, 2014 2:43 pm
Two pics of a spider found in a co-worker’s house in Tucson AZ in late September 2014. People come to me with their bug questions, but I’m not knowledgable about spiders. If someone can just get it to a rough group of spiders that’d be great. Just curious. Thanks so much.
Signature: Margrit McIntosh

Western Spotted Orbweaver
Western Spotted Orbweaver

Dear Margrit,
We believe this is a female Western Spotted Orbweaver,
Neoscona oaxacensis, a highly variable species.  We matched your image to this image on BugGuide.  Orbweavers are in the family Araneidae, and they are a harmless family of spiders.  Orbweavers build large circular webs, the “classic” spider web.  Most Orbweavers are sexually dimorphic, with the females being much larger than the males.

Letter 6 – Western Spotted Orbweaver from Mexico

 

I find this one!
Location: Nuevo Laredo – Tamaulipas – México
November 20, 2010 4:28 pm
yeah it was pending at his web in fron of my door, i want to know if somebody could tell what kind of spider is. Im too curious and i’v never seen a spider like this before.
Signature: Isra

Western Spotted Orbweaver

Hi Isra,
Your spider is an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae.  We believe it is the Western Spotted Orbweaver,
Neoscona oaxacensis, which is a variable species, but we found a photo on BugGuide that matches quite closely.

Western Spotted Orbweaver

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.

  • 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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