- Posted October 16, 2013 by
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Cranky Spiders Moving Into Your Neighborhood?
This Golden Orb Weaver hasn’t changed much in 165 million years, as evidenced by Paleontologist Professor, Paul Selden’s recent discovery in China of an intact fossilized “Nephila jurassicas.”
She’s still tenaciously spinning the 5 foot-give or take an inch, glittering golden web that gives her her name and flaunting her large body with it’s long colorful legs and knobby hairy knees to male hopefuls that bravely gather near her at Summer‘s end.
Commonly thought to be found only in tropical and subtropical regions, they are common in South Carolina, but I’ve also seen them 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 tastey 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 than my thumb, 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, 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, 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, or she is just hungry.
This female spent her days splayed across her massive web that has the strength of Kevlar. Some 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 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 males kept their distance, 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-to-be 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.