Orb weaver spiders are part of the largest, most varied subgroup of spiders known to man. Unlike some other spiders the orb weavers are not named for how they appear, but rather for the intricate webs they expertly weave.
Last week, we talked about four of the eight orb weaver spiders you’re most likely to encounter on the Gulf Coast of Florida. We say encounter because while you often see pictures of orb weaver webs - most people are likely to “feel” the spider’s web by walking through it, rather than catching a glimpse, adorned with morning dew.
Without further ado, let’s look at the other orb weaver spiders in our backyards and forest clearings.
Spotted Orb Weaver Spider
Neoscona domiciliorum or Neoscona crucifera get their common name from the assorted spots on the underside of their abdomen. Also sometimes called barn spiders, spotted orb weavers come in a variety of colors – from black and brown to red, grey and tan. They are always hairy and are sometimes likened in appearance to an upside down Christmas tree.
Despite being nocturnal, spotted orb weavers tend to build very large webs close to elevated lights. Interestingly they will, in the morning, regather and devour their webs, including any moisture that has collected and recycle it to create a new web each evening. Their bite does contain a venomous substance but it doesn’t affect humans at all.
Arabesque Orb Weaver
This particular spider gets its name from its resemblance to the Hellenistic style of decoration characterized by intertwining plants and abstract rhythmic linear patterns and curvilinear motifs. The back of the Neoscona arabesca has a brightly colored, intricate and mysterious swirling pattern that reminds people of the Moorish art form.
The spider webs of this particular spider tend to be open, with only one or two strands in the center for the female to perch on while waiting for prey. Males do their hunting on the ground. They only attack when threatened and cause very little damage, feeling like a tiny bee sting.
Mabel Orchard Orb Weaver
This is one of the more interesting looking specimens among orb weaver spiders. These spiders are most colorful on their undersides, sporting a dark green coloration with several bright orange/reddish spots and sometimes some white areas. The Leucauge mabela also has the distinction of being the only spider species named by Charles Darwin himself while travelling on the HMS Beagle.
While it is often thought of as a tropical spider, the Mabel Orchard Orb Weaver is actually one of the most adaptable spiders, ranging as far north as Canada and thriving on several continents. As the name implies, they are generally found in orchards and perform very effective pest control for mosquitoes as well as insects that would do agricultural damage.
Heptagonal Orb Weaver
Our final spider this time is the Heptagonal Orb Weaver. Similar in some ways to the spiny backed orb weaver, this arachnid takes its name from its seven sided abdomen – each corner punctuated by a white spike. The Gea heptagon is one of the smallest orb weaver spiders and it almost always hangs upside down in its web.
Although they appear quite striking in their webs, when startled the spiders will immediately drop down and somehow reduce the brightness of their abdominal coloration to blend in with the foliage. They may even leave the bottom of the web unfinished for a fast exit.
We’ve mentioned it before but it bears repeating – while we are often troubled by spiders, they are very effective as a form of natural pest control and in some countries are even welcomed into people’s houses.
Of course, instead of inviting spiders into your home, you can always reach out to us. For more information just give us a call!
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