Basilica Orbweaver (Mecynogea lemniscata)
Detailing the identifying qualities of the Basilica Orbweaver, including physical features and territorial reach.
Updated: 2/5/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The ornately colored Basilica Orbweaver spider is much like the renowned church in Italy: a feast for the eyes.
The colors, pattern and shape of the abdomen make the Basilica Orbweaver a real stand out. With a long abdomen painted in shades of green, orange and yellow, it should be difficult to miss this beauty. The shape of the abdomen is different from other Orbweavers; it is more of a bulging rectangle than a sphere. The sides are green with tiny white dots on it. The marking on the dorsal side (back) is edged in white and filled with a myriad of orange lines, and inlays of brown, black and bright yellow. The carapace ('neck' area) looks like a cat's eye with a black line running down the center, an orange iris and dark brown edges. Thin green legs end in brown 'feet' and are sparsely covered in spiky hairs.
The Basilica Orbweaver is part of the Orbweaver family called Aranaeidae. This is a huge family of spiders in North America. The shape of the web created by these spiders is a circular spiral, or orb. Strands of spider silk radiate from the center of the web out to the edges. Many orbweavers rebuild their webs every day, but this species does not reconstruct a new web unless it needs to. It prefers to makes repairs to its existing web. If repairs are inefficient, then it will build a new web above its old one. Webs are found at the tops of plants with the spider nesting in a silk mess near it.
The Basilica Orbweaver makes its webs dome-shaped, similar to the shape seen on the tops cathedrals or the U.S. capitol building. The weaving inside the dome is small and mesh-like, unlike the more airy arrangement of the surrounding web. Dangling threads inside the dome aid in creating a sticky trap. Egg sacs can also be seen hanging from a female's web. The egg sacs are white and bead-shaped, like a strand of pearls. Adults are most active from late spring to early summer.