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Bolas Spider (Mastophora cornigera)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Bolas Spider, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 2/8/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Bolas Spider  
Picture of Bolas-Spider

The Bolas Spider's abdomen helps it lure prey into its delicate, hanging lines of silk, each strand tipped with a weighty ball.

The Bolas Spider is not a web spinner. Instead, it casts lines of silk strands with a heavy globule at the end called a bola. It swings the bola when prey is within range. This species ensnares moths that fly too closely to it. It is believed to be able to produce a chemical from its abdominal protuberances that mimics the pheromone, or smell, of female moths. When male moths come seeking to mate, they are caught by the lines of silk.

Bolas Spiders are brown with an irregularly shaped abdomen. Two bumps on it look more like deformed outgrowths. A whitish marbling over the abdomen looks like a chalky residue. Males remain quite small, but females molt multiple times, growing to be 5 or 6 times larger than males. Fertilized eggs are laid in a hard, round sac and spiderlings hatch in June.

The Bolas Spider can be found in a variety of habitats ranging from gardens and meadows to shrubby areas and woodlands. They are more common in southeastern North America but have been seen westward all the way to the southern parts of California.

Bolas Spider Information

Category: Spider
Common Name: Bolas Spider
Scientific Name: Mastophora cornigera

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Arachnida
    Arrow graphic Order: Araneae
     Arrow graphic Family: Araneidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Mastophora
       Arrow graphic Species: cornigera

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 2 mm to 15 mm (0.078 inches to 0.585 inches)
Identifying Colors: brown, white, ivory, yellow, red
Additional Descriptors: bumpy, bulging, rough, deformed, bulbous, biting

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arizona; California; Florida; Georgia; Louisiana; Mississippi; New Mexico; Ohio; Oklahoma; South Carolina; Texas

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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