Orb Weaver Spider – Neoscona arabesca

Orb Weaver Spider – Neoscona arabesca
Live adult male and female spider photos
Family Araneidae (Orb Weavers)

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Orb Weaver Spider - Neoscona arabesca

This gal is eating her old web during high winds just before a thunderstorm; she is supported by a single strand of brand-new silk issuing from her spinneret. If you've never seen one of these lovely spiders do this, it's worth watching out for. It's simply indescribable how she deconstructs the orb; all I know is she ends up with wads of silk she quickly devours. If you look closely at the picture above, you can see her claw gripping the silken strand. She accomplished the feat in just a few minutes, then retreated to her hiding place under a wooden stair rail to wait out the storm.
Many orb-weaving spiders routinely recycle their metabolically-costly silk in the morning or evening, according to the species' nocturnal or diurnal habits. (Nocturnal spiders hide during the day, diurnal vice-versa.) This process may also serve to disencumber the web of insect carcasses which make the web more conspicuous and interfere with the vibration patterns the spider uses to distinguish the size and nature of her prey. In any event, a spider's web is an exquisitely and intricately-wrought structure, evolved over millions of years of trial and error. The orb-web, in particular, could not be geometrically more efficient or practical. My hat's off to these marvelous creatures!

Orb Weaver Spider - Neoscona arabesca
N. arabesca female size = 12mm (*See our tips on measuring spider sizes)

"Neoscona arabesca is a common orb-weaver spider found throughout the United States and Canada. Often called the "arabesque orbweaver," after the cryptic, brightly-colored, swirling markings on its prominent abdomen, this spider can be found in fields, forests, gardens, and on human structures. Neoscona species are among the most common and abundant orb weavers and are found on all continents [3].

N. arabesca females build a vertical web measuring 15–45 cm (5.9–17.7 in) in diameter, with 18-20 radii. The hub is open and crossed by only one or two threads. At night, the female rests in the center of the orb with the tip of her abdomen pushed through the open space. During the daytime, she often hides in a retreat away from the web, usually inside a curled-and-tied leaf. Male N. arabesca can often be found in nearby foliage or hunting on the ground." —Bruce Marlin on Wikipedia

I often find N. Arabesca out and about during the daytime. I see them sitting in their webs and conducting business as usual, especially on human structures. My neighbors, who are always happy to help, often report these spider's activity to me.
male Neoscona arabesca
Male N. arabesca out hunting. Size = 8mm (Spiders are measured by body length)

Males of this species don't build webs of their own; they are usually found out-and-about, looking for mates, or hanging around in far corners of a large female's web. In some species of orb weavers, e.g. the furrow or foliate spider Larinioides, males do regularly spin capture webs nearby the females. Larinioides males are also unusual among orb weavers in that they are almost as large and ornately patterned as the female. Both male and female Larinioides are strictly nocturnal in habit.

  1. Bugguide.net “Araneidae
  2. Wikipedia, “Orb-weaver spider
  3. Berman, J. D., & Levi, H. W. (1971). "The orb weaver genus Neoscona in North America" 141. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College. pp. 465–500.

Class Arachnida / Order Araneae: Spiders are the largest group of arachnids.  They are easily recognized by their eight legs, and there are few creatures great or small that elicit such irrational fear in mankind. The vast majority of spiders are completely harmless and offer beneficial services, chief of which is keeping the burgeoning insect population in check. I am continually amazed at the resourcefulness of these supremely successful predators. Spider Index | Spider Main