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Golden Silk Orbweaver (Nephila clavipes)


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



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The intimidating and multi-colored Golden Silk Orbweaver is not as mean as it looks and is far more docile than its South American relative.



Updated: 01/08/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The size of this spider can be alarming. While males remain quite small (up to 1/4 inch), females can grow to become 7.6 cm (3 inches) long, not including legs. They build webs up to 3 feet in diameter and sit, head-down, right smack in the center of them. This spider does not hide from its prey. Its tubular abdomen is a golden, orange color with a row line of paired white dots running the length of it. Side speckles and white dashes fill in the space around them. Spindly legs are long and also gold with brown bands. The abdomen of this spider is shaped somewhat like a banana and the 1st, 2nd and 4th pairs of legs have black tufts of hair on them.

The Golden Silk Orbweaver is a tropical climate spider. Its name comes from the color of its spider silk. The threads have a yellowish hue to them. The collection of the spider silk to produce usable fabric proved too time and labor consuming to pursue. This spider prefers humidity and it found in the Southeastern U.S.. Sometimes called a Banana Spider because of its abdomen's shape, it is not the same species as the aggressive Brazilian banana spider known for surprising and biting people handling its retreat formed between bananas. Our North American species is not aggressive and considered relatively harmless, meaning it may bite if threatened, but it does not have poisonous venom.

They are found in swamps or shady woods, weaving webs that are on a slight incline as opposed to straight up-and-down with the ground like other orb weavers. These golden webs may look incomplete, lacking a perfect circular shape. Males are often seen on off to the side of a female's web, or perhaps sitting on her. As an orbweaver, this species rebuilds part of its web every day, though Golden Silk Orbweavers may need a few nights to rebuild the entire massive web. This species is an excellent guard for flower and vegetable gardens. The placement of their webs over areas that require harvesting may prove a bit annoying and difficult for a gardener, but a Golden Silk Orbweaver should be encouraged to hang around.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Striped or banded insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Tetragnathidae
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          Genus: Nephila
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            Species: clavipes
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Nephila clavipes
Other Name(s): Banana Spider, Calico Spider
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 4mm to 25mm (0.15" to 0.98")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange; yellow; black; white; brown
Descriptors: biting, large, hairy, black legwarmers, bands, skinny legs
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 4mm and 25mm
Lo: 4mm
Md: 14.5mm
Hi: 25mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Golden Silk 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 Golden Silk Orbweaver. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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