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Cat-faced Spider (Araneus gemmoides)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Cat-faced Spider

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Image Credit: Chad M. from Boise, ID
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Image Credit: C. Wilson from CO
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The Cat-faced Spider is every gardener's friend, keeping watch over plants and consuming loads of pest insects.

Updated: 01/03/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Cat-faced Spider is a common name shared by this species and a second North American spider. Its other common name, Jewel Spider, is also shared with an Australian spider. This name duplication illustrates the usefulness of using scientific names when addressing the identity of living things, which prompts gratitude for the work of Carl Linnaeus, the father of scientific nomenclature.

This harmless spider is an angulate spider, meaning it has two pronounced bumps at the top of its abdomen. The 'cat face' on the abdomen is created by these two bumps, which form the cat's 'ears', and the pattern in the center of the abdomen, which forms the 'face'. This spider is usually up-side-down in the garden, preferring to sit with its head toward the ground. Each individual spider may vary in color. Some are quite pale; others are a rich, tawny brown. Usually, a large female is found hiding in plant leaves or debris off to the side of the web, waiting to sense a tremor on the threads of silk. Males are smaller. A female will create an egg sac that holds about a hundred fertilized eggs in it. This egg sac will overwinter and in the spring, the spiderlings emerge and disperse using silk lines to help carry them away to new homes.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Araneidae
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          Genus: Araneus
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            Species: gemmoides
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Araneus gemmoides
Other Name(s): Jewel Spider
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 5mm to 26mm (0.19" to 1.02")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; white; yellow; ivory; red
Descriptors: spiky; bumpy; hairy; horns; biting; venomous; harmless; shoulders; angulate

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 5mm (0.2in) and 26mm (1.0in)
Lo: 5mm
Md: 15.5mm
Hi: 26mm
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 Cat-faced 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 Cat-faced Spider. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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