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Pest Profile: Golden Silk Orb Weaver

Published In: Pest Profile

Ever go for a hike and come across a large, magnificent web with a large spider that looks like it could potentially eat you if given the chance? Such a spider may be the Golden silk-orb weaver (Trichonephila clavipes). This spider can be found in Florida and other southeastern states. It is a large orange and brown spider with feather tufts on its legs. It is well known and often despised by those that hike because it makes a very large web that may often be run into accidentally. However, the spider really poses no danger and will only bite if held or pinched. Webs are typically made in the open woods or on the edges of dense forest and are attached to trees and low-lying shrubs. These are placed strategically in order to exploit insect flight paths.

Females of these species will range in 24-40mm in length. The female color pattern consists of a silvery carapace, yellow spots on a dull orange to tan cylindrical body and brown and orange banded legs. The males, on the other hand, are dark brown, slender spiders that average around 6 mm in length and would often go unnoticed if they were not found in the webs of females.

These tropical climate-loving spiders have one generation a year: males are present from July to September, with most females maturing in August. Mature females are found late into the fall when they make at least two large egg sacs 2.5 to 3 cm in diameter consisting of several hundred eggs. Populations of these spiders in the more tropical regions of the world will produce almost 9 egg sacs per female. A final closing fact that makes these spiders rather interesting is that some of these orb weavers will place their webs over areas that require harvestings such as flower and vegetable gardens. Although their webs may make harvesting a little bit difficult, they have proven to be good protectors of such gardens!

Kristen Stevens, BCE Director of Training

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