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Basilica Orbweaver (Mecynogea lemniscata)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Basilica Orbweaver



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The ornately colored Basilica Orbweaver spider is much like the renowned church in Italy: a feast for the eyes.



Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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. They are often seen on holly shrubs and trees in winter, hanging on a remnant of tinsel-like threads of silk. Adults are most active from late spring to early summer.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Rounded insect body icon
Venomous insect icon


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Araneidae
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          Genus: Mecynogea
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            Species: lemniscata
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Mecynogea lemniscata
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 5mm to 9mm (0.19" to 0.35")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: green; orange; yellow; black; white; red
Descriptors: round, long, narrow, multicolored, colorful, venomous, small
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 5mm (0.2in) and 9mm (0.4in)
Lo: 5mm
Md: 7mm
Hi: 9mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Basilica Orbweaver 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 Basilica Orbweaver. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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