- Posted October 16, 2013 by
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Cranky Spiders Moving Into Your Neighborhood?
This huge Golden Orb Weaver may be spotted in your neighborhood on warm summer days now. Curiously, she's survived worldwide disease, famine and pestilence and hasn’t changed much in 165 million years, as evidenced by Paleontologist Professor, Paul Selden’s recent discovery in China. He and his team discovered and studied an intact fossilized Golden Orb he dubbed, “Nephila jurassicas.”
She’s still tenaciously spinning the 5 foot-give or take an inch, glittering golden webs today, that give her her name. And she's still flaunting her large body with it’s long colorful legs and knobby hairy knees to male hopefuls that bravely gather near her at Summers end.
Commonly thought to be found only in tropical and subtropical regions, they are common in South Carolina, but I’ve also seen them farther north in coastal Virginia.
They're the largest web weavers in this country and a female can grow to be as large as your hand, whereas males are only a fraction of a female’s size. In some countries they are considered a tasty snack, and are also known as Golden Silk Spiders.
This female was larger than my palm for example, but the less colorful males that gathered on her web were shorter and thinner than my pinkie, and barely the size of those frightening mandibles she sports, and is not afraid to use.
She possesses the same neuro-toxin as Black Widow Spiders, though popular belief is that it is less or not toxic at all to humans. Even if one isn't allergic or sensitive to her toxin, if you're weeding your posies and disturb her, anecdotal reports prove that she can deliver a painful bite that can blister and make you feel sick.
She has little patience for her opportunistic suitors, and obviously has her pick I observed, as there were as many as 6 on her web on any given day. They shrivel themselves into thin slivers to blend in with the thick veins of her web where they hide and wait patiently for her to decide either the time is right for love, or she is just hungry.
This female spent her days splayed across her massive web that has the strength of Kevlar. Some of these spiders spin webs to match a beige background with only small portions of gold, and others spin webs in the trees that glimmer in the summer sun like spun gold.
Because of this beauty and strength, while this lazy mom-to-be dined mostly on mosquitoes that inadvertently wandered into her web, large dragon flies and even small birds have also been caught in the enticingly beautiful webs, well camouflaged in sun streaming through tree canopies.
Most of the male Nephilas kept their distance here, but a brave few risked life and limb, literally, and waited for just the right moment when she was distracted with a delicious mosquito morsel, to move closer and hopefully mate without being eaten first.
One determined little Nephila moved very slowly and very cautiously, until he was able to get close enough to stroke her abdomen, a common practice to calm the Orbs’ cranky dispositions.
Between swallows however, she swiftly gave him a hearty kick, banning him from her dance card for the rest of her meal.
This Casanova wasn't to be dissuaded however, and soon began courting her again, this time slowly and ever so gently binding her two rear legs first, apparently to give him an edge should she decide to give him the boot and send him tumbling once again.
Alas, this beautiful mom recently left her highly visible and prominent web to hide her meticulously swaddled egg case in a secluded place, safer and more suitable for her thousand or so babies to develop. Then they'll scurry into the trees and gardens to grow into the voracious natural pesticide they will become.
PHOTO #! The large female Golden Orb Weaver is languishing on a beige portion of her web, which is how she spends most of her days in Myrtle Beach, SC.
PHOTO #2 A rare photo of a tiny brave male Nephila taking advantage of the distracted female eating, to stroke her in order to calm her so he can safely get close enough to mate.
PHOTO #3 This smaller female Nephila is creeping toward a large dragonfly, recently snared in her web which is golden in the sun and shimmers with dew on Wadmalaw Island in SC.