Marbled Orb Weaver Spiders
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am absolutely terrified of spiders. Not much creeps me out or scares me, but spiders are a sure bet. In my mind all spiders inside or around my house need to be quashed. But, on this past Thursday afternoon, my opinion of spiders changed- and for the better. I saw something really cool. An intrepid spider was actually weaving a web on my deck. I’ve seen lots of spiders and spider webs, but never once have I ever actually seen a spider in the act of weaving their web. I found it absolutely fascinating! So much so that I actually went back into my house to grab my camera to take photos and video of this little guy. He looked kind of odd, with lots more color than I expected to find on a spider in North New Jersey. I watched him for about half an hour, and this little guy never took a break from his work! Later, after I went back inside, I started doing research into this type of spider. And I happened to find some pretty neat things about it!
Coloring and size:
This spider is about 9 to 20 millimeters long, with very large abdomens. The abdomen is mostly orange with brown or even purple markings. The back can be yellow, orange or white, with the marbling pattern being made of darker colored lines. The legs begin orange, then turn yellow, with the distal ends being brown. Looking at the picture to the right, is it any wonder that I found this single spider interesting rather than scary? It’s actually quite beautiful!
Locations and behavior:
This spider is found mostly in woodland and grassy areas. The web is typically in a circular pattern, oriented vertically. This is to catch more of the flying insects. There is a distinct spiral pattern within the web. This design of the web not only makes it hard for other insects to see and avoid it, but it also is structurally sound. This sort of web can easily withstand the impact of a flying insect without the insect breaking too many of the strands. These spiders do not kill their prey with venom or by using the silk. These webs are more common along the banks of streams. The spider has a signal web, a strand of silk that connects to the center of the web, to let the spider know when the web has caught prey. While waiting, the adult spiders hide in a small retreat made of folded leaves held together by silk. Of course, this depends on where the web is. On my deck, the spider was hiding in an old drilled out hole, surrounded by the silk. No folding leaves here!
Most times, the spider is hiding during the day, and is more active within the evening hours. In the evening hours, the spider will actually eat the old web, wait about an hour, the completely remake the whole web. This means that the web is free of any debris that may blow into it, making it harder for prey insects to see the trap, and thus avoid it. They deposit eggs in October, and normally produce several hundred eggs at a single time. Immature spiders begin to appear in the spring. Immature spiders produce smaller webs, and their retreat is only made of web silk, not folded leaves. These spiders tend to disappear in the fall, after the first hard frost. While most of these spiders die after the first frost, some have been recorded to live up to a year.
There’s an old saying about things in nature. The more color an animal has, the more poisonous it tends to be. Completely untrue here. The Orb Weaver, while having quite the myriad of colors, is not in any way poisonous. These spiders bite people only very rarely, and then the bites are only on the level of a bee sting. Medically, this spider is completely unimportant.
So, all in all, the Marbled Orb Weaver makes for a pretty neat spider. It’s also a hard worker, as it needs to rebuild the web day after day. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to video the spider creating the web. However, videos can be found easily on the web, youtube in particular . Just search for marbled orb weavers and the videos should appear. And while I may now enjoy this particular species of spider, spiders in general still creep me out. (Even if, admittedly, they are kind of cool)
(Most information taken from my own observations of the spider (Coloring and size) and Penn States spider website.
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