Jan 1, 2009

Only Four Inches Across

Poor Lauren is having to contend with some very large orb weavers on her property. This is what awaits her in her eaves every day. The big one is six inches across. What isn't shown is another pair, where there is a smaller spider around four inches across. I truly don't know if I could live in a place where the smaller spider is only four inches across.

Can anyone help with a more specific ID? Are we looking at pairs that are about to mate? We need to allay Lauren's fears and to instruct her as to what sort of body armor and weaponry she needs to carry when she goes gardening.

UPDATE: Looks like we've got an ID for you, Lauren. Deborah pegs it as a Golden Silk Orbweaver (Nephila clavipes), and I tend to agree. An alternative would be something from the Argiope genus (thanks Lindsay). Amanda thinks, like I do, that you're dealing females and males, not youngins. You're in for a large brood coming hatchling season.


12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where does Lauren live?

Lindsay said...

I live in Georgia and have some very similar-looking spiders that take up residence in my windows (on the outside, thanks much) every year.

I've heard them called "banana spiders" (because of their yellow bits) and "zipper spiders" (because of the zig-zag they do on their webs). They're actually called Argiope spiders. They're not particularly toxic to humans, with the standard disclaimer of allergies and unusual reactions, etc.

Amanda said...

Sadly, that does look suspiciously like a female & a male (the males are smaller & nondescript).

Anonymous said...

These spiders are deadly. They don't kill with venom but with shock. People are known to have had fatal heart attacks after walking into one of their webs and feeling the giant spider crawling on their head/face/neck (especially at night).

Deborah said...

Those are Golden Silk spiders, Nephila clavipes. They only bite if you manhandle them, and it only causes minor pain/itching.

Anonymous said...

They look EXACTLY like those evil spiders from Zelda: Occarina of Time N64 version! I can hear them now...

Ugly Deaf Muslim Punk Gurl! said...

oh my god. Lauren has my deepest sympathies.

Jaden said...

Resident spider expert here. I haven't been posting lately since I'm always beaten to IDs anymore, but there are a few different answers here. Let me try to clear things up. :)

These are an Argiope sp. People often call them writing spiders. They VERY closely related to the golden silk spider, but those are concentrated almost exclusively in Asia, last I saw (new species are introduced to the SE all the time, though).

These are harmless, but do have a rather painful bite, so try not to mess with them. As with all web dwelling spiders, leave the web alone and they'll leave you alone. I know this too well, as I've been out collecting in FL orange groves with thousands of these around. I've also walked through several webs by mistake and been bitten once.

Your bottom picture is most likely a male and female. They are quite sexually dimorphic, with the female being about 5x the size of the male. It's not uncommon to see females with a 6" leg span, either.

In the end, if you leave them alone, they'll return the favor. Also, if you have so many, they've found something good to dine on, which is probably a critter you would want around even less.

Let me know if anyone has any more questions about these guys. They're on of my favorite spiders. :)

'badmoodguy' is mike said...

OMG! Time to move. Just leave the house...the bank won't foreclose with those things living about, either.

nonspecific said...

Errr... Nephila has nothing to do with Argiope, other than a color in common. Definitely 100% Golden Silk Orbweavers though. Both species get really large, and I can see how they would be confused.

Flartus said...

All I have to add here is: AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Umm. Those spiders look like the type that those of us in Central Texas call "Sewing Machine Spiders" (they spin zig-zag lines from the edge to the center of their orb webs that look like the stitch used on a sewing machine to secure a hem).

Lots of pun material in that last paragraph, for those so inclined...

It would help to know where the person who took these pics lives.

My dad has spent many a fine summer afternoon since retiring reading a book on the front porch and throwing a stray member of the grasshopper plague into a favored Sewing Machine Spider's web.

Good times.