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Mature female Nephila clavipes
from Davie, Florida
Physical Description Of Golden Silk Orbweaver
The carapace of the Golden Silk Orbweaver is silvery to reflect some of the sunlight but could be mistakenly declared white which, in turn, identifies where its eyes are located quite easily. The top side of the abdomen is normally an orange-brownish color with very light orange, yellow, or even white speckles throughout it. You might easily be frightened by this spider because of its size but especially its abnormally long legs compared to its other orbweaving family members. It is also recognized for its hairy-like tufts throughout its legs and the orangish-red and black banded legs [source].
The female Golden Silk Orbweaver is one of the largest non-tarantula spiders in North America. It is more than likely a close second or third place as the largest orbweaver in the United States. The females can range from 24mm to 40mm in length not including its long legs. The males are generally only half the size of most females and perhaps even smaller in some recorded cases. Though these are generally correct sizes, there have been many of occasions where this spider or a very close relative (in the same genus among the other “banana spiders) have reportedly reached sizes large enough to kill such things as a small finch, large frogs, and lizards. Location This species has a large range of regions it has been spotted in such as the south eastern states (ranging from Florida to North Carolina and states in between), the Gulf States, through Central & South America (as far down as Argentina), and Cuba (specifically the West Indies) [source]. Typically, the Golden Silk Spider will be in open woods or a dense forest, normally staying in the middle of its web. It will normally have its web at human eye level or higher. But they can also be found in low shrubbery or even utility lines.
Prey & Predators
This arachnid will normally prey on bees, butterflies, flies, moths, small wasps, other small to medium flying insects, and even the occasional small frog [source]. Predators to the Golden Silk Orbweaver can be birds, larger spiders, and potentially larger insects.
Type Of Web
They spin Orb webs hence being a part of the orbweaver family. They tend to build rebuild these webs every day to every other day because over time the web looses its stickiness. Though, most orbweavers are given the nickname the “garden spider”, this particular one does not quite fit into that category some entomologists have said. It is an orbweaver but not your typical orbweaver. The Golden Silk Spider normally constructs its web off-center. The skeleton of it’s web is formed by a non-sticky silk it produces and is first shaped like a Y. From there, the spider fills in the rest of its web with its stickier silk [source].
Harmful to Humans?
Most people are understandably very concerned after being bit by this big, bright, and alarming looking spider, but in most cases the bite will at worst just feel irritated, a bit swollen, and have redness for up to a day or so. It has been said that a bee sting still feels much worse than a bite from the Golden Silk Orbweaver. Of course people who are easily allergic to other bites or stings may want to take the safer route and call a local doctor for advice or even schedule an appointment. We at PestPro recommend also being safer than sorry when it comes to infants or small children being bit.
Nephila clavipes, one of many “banana” spiders, Calico Spider, Writing Spider, Giant Wood Spider