Spined Micrathena - Micrathena gracilis
Live female spider photographed at Wheaton, Illinois.
Family Araneidae - Orb Weaver Spiders
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macro photograph Spined Micrathena spider
Commonly called the Spined Micrathena, this unobtrusive forest denizen is completely harmless to humans. This spider spins a large, tightly coiled orb web in wooded or brushy areas.  These webs are often anchored to shrubbery or trees nearby with log, strong single threads many feet long. It's nearly impossible to walk without running into these strands of silk.

Micrathena spider webs are extremely difficult to see as one walks through the woods - most often they are spun horizontally, in which case  a female spider firmly ensconced in the center of the orb is virtually invisible. If you are lucky enough to be on a forest path that faces the rising or setting sun, the long, slanting light will reveal dozens of webs that were previously invisible. Quite a sight when the full abundance of these spiders is revealed.

macro photograph Spined Micrathena spider
I took these shots circa 2002 with my Kodak DC4800. I used to shoot everything in available light
macro photograph Spined Micrathena ventral view
  1. Bugguide.net, Micrathena
  2. Arthur V. Evans, National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America
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