Common Name: Spotted Orbweaver.
Scientific Name: Neoscona Crucifera.
What to look for? Look for a large brown spider with “spotted” or banded legs. Like all other spiders, Spotted Orbweavers have a cephalothorax (a fused-together head and thorax), abdomen, 8 legs and fang-like mouthparts called chelicera. The Spotted Orbweaver spider has a slightly triangular to oval abdomen. The hairy body may have an orange-brown or rust coloration with black markings. The eight legs are banded with reddish-brown and pale-yellow markings.
Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Spotted Orbweavers are more likely seen in the fall around Carillon Stonegate Pond when their predators are gone. You may find their webs in trees and on shrubs, on structures such as the gazebo and around our homes.
How big are they? The Spotted Orbweaver averages approximately one-half inch in body length – excluding length of its legs.
What are their flight patterns? Spiders do not fly.
How else do they behave? The Spotted Orbweaver hangs head down in the middle of the web when hunting. Females spin webs; males do not.
What’s for dinner? The Spotted Orbweaver eats flying insects such as moths and crane flies. Once caught in sticky strands of the web, they are bitten and trussed by the spider, which later eats them. Webs are built at dusk and used for snaring prey during the night. At dawn, the spider reingests the strands (along with moisture that has collected on it as dew) and recycles the nutrients in making the next web.
Where do they take up residence? Spotted Orbweaver spiders are found across the eastern U.S. They are creatures of the light and will string their webs in relatively well lighted areas where flying prey activity may be at its highest. A new web is made each night on a wall, tree, or fence. The spider eats the web the next morning. Their webs are oval in shape, with a spiral weaving pattern characteristic to orbweavers.
When and where do they breed and nest? Once mated, the female Spotted Orbweaver creates egg cases or sacs. There may be upwards of 1,000 spherical-shaped eggs in a sac. The first freeze usually kills all the adult spiders, with only the eggs overwintering. The eggs hatch in spring. The young spiderlings disperse and begin building webs, hunting, and growing. Once mature, the males wander in search of a mate while the females hang in webs eating and awaiting a mate. And the cycle of life continues.
Where do they migrate? The Spotted Orbweaver does not migrate. Rather adults do not survive the winter, while newly laid eggs overwinter.
Do they make any interesting sounds? No.
Interesting Facts About the Spotted Orbweaver:
Spotted Orbweavers are nocturnal and have the peculiar habit of eating and rebuilding their webs each day.
Their scientific name has interesting origins when the person, not good at speaking Greek, meant to say finding one "in the reeds spinning a web", but instead the name he gave it translates to "spinning a reed." Despite the goof, the Neoscona name stands.
The specific epithet "crucifera" means "cross bearer" due to the shape the markings often take.
Except for the fall, you likely have not noticed the Spotted Orbweaver during the earlier part of the year as they hide during the day.
These spiders control populations of flying insects.
For more information on the Spotted Orbweaver and sources of information used in this blog (these are the several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Missouri Department of Conservation Field Guide, Spider Identification, Fontenelle Nature Association, and University of Maryland Bug of the Week.
The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.
Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!