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Arrow-shaped Micrathena Spider (Micrathena sagitatta)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Arrow-shaped Micrathena Spider

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The huge pointy spines on the abdomen of the Arrow-shaped Micrathena Spider are just the first of many wonders that make this spider so attractive.

Updated: 07/11/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Arrow-shaped Micrathena Spiders are everything their name suggests. Instead of a round abdomen, seen in typical spiders, abdomen is longer and generally triangular in shape, like the head of an arrow. Like other Micrathenas, this species' female has sharp spines on it that resemble rose prickles. They protrude from the edges of the abdomen. These spines are believed to ward off predators, but some sources suggest they may add to her ability to conceal herself in her web. Two large points extend from the bottom of the abdomen and angle away from each other. They are thick and intimidating with red bases and black tips. Males do not have spines of any kind; their abdomens have rounded edges.

Male are mostly black with white edges, but females abound in color and pattern. The head, legs and most of the body are red. The center of the arrow-shaped abdomen is bright yellow with small red spots. Most of the medium and large spines are tipped with black. Females are twice as large as males. Both genders spin orb-shaped spiral webs that lie in a vertical plane (up-and-down). These webs may only be a few feet off the ground. A thick, short, zigzagged strand of webbing, called a stabilimentum, is usually just above the center of the web. Many spiral strands radiating from the center allow the spider to tread easily on its web. Orbweavers are known to rebuild their webs every day.

In autumn, a female Arrow-shaped Micrathena Spider will lay fertilized eggs on the edge of her web, usually on a leaf right next to it, and then die before they hatch. The eggs will overwinter in the egg sac and hatch the next spring. They prefer outdoor habitats with vegetation to help hide them. Look for them in forests.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Spiny / Spiky insect icon
Venomous insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Araneidae
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          Genus: Micrathena
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            Species: sagitatta

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Micrathena sagitatta
Other Name(s): Arrow Spider
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 4mm to 9mm (0.15" to 0.35")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: red; yellow; black; orange; white
Descriptors: pointy; holes; thorny; spiny; venomous

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 4mm (0.2in) and 9mm (0.4in)
Lo: 4mm
Md: 6.5mm
Hi: 9mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Arrow-shaped Micrathena Spider may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Arrow-shaped Micrathena Spider. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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