Golden Orb Spiders

Nephila species, family Nephilidae

The female Golden Orb Weaver, Nephila edulis The female Golden Orb Weaver, Nephila edulis, displaying boldy marked black legs with bright yellow joints, dwarfs the less ornate male.

Identification

Large black or dark bodied spiders with very long orange and black legs found through the day and night in large sticky webs sometimes with golden silk usually well above the ground.

Two smaller species, Nephila edulis and Nephila plumipes, look very similar but differ in that the latter has a conical bump near its mouth.

The largest species, the Giant Golden Orb, Nephila pilipes, has a strong golden web and boldly marked black legs with bright yellow joints. The normal sized and less ornate males are vastly dwarfed by the giant female.

Tiny unrelated Silver Dew Drop spiders (Argyrodes antipodiana) live in the web of the Golden Orbs and steal tiny insects trapped on the web of the host.

Diversity & distribution

Three species occur in south-eastern Queensland.

The Giant Golden Orb is most numerous in the north but in warmer years the spiders are recorded as far south as Ipswich and even Coffs Harbour. The two smaller species - Nephila edulis and Nephila plumipes - are widespread. 

Web

Large circular vertical webs, often yellow, with a small tangle of old insect bodies on each side of the hub. These webs remain up during the night and day.

Bite

Not prone to bite; unsubstantiated records and its much vaunted ability to kill small birds suggest its bite is potentially of concern.

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