Golden Orb Weavers

My first encounter with this spectacular web-building spider was approximately ten years ago when I almost walked into a web while wandering around Lake Waccamaw State Park.  I was fascinated by not only the size of the web but the beauty of the spider that had built it.  I was also extremely grateful that I had not walked into it as I am sure it would have resulted in a nightmare inducing scenario.  Despite that I was absolutely delighted when a couple of years ago I found one on my property.  She had built her web high up between two pine trees in the back yard but the web was distinctive enough and the female large enough that I recognized it for what it was.

That female must have been successful in laying an egg case because as I wandered outside today I counted at least ten webs.  The most spectacular was this one

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It is at least four feet in diameter and spanned the distance from the rose arbor to a tree. When I encountered it the sun was hitting it in such a fashion that it literally looked like it had been spun with gold thread.   Some strands were thicker and golder than the other more fragile parts of the web and those looked like golden embroidery thread.

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The female was sitting in the center of the web and her husband (tiny by comparison) was hanging out close by.   I also noticed several other spiders of varying species that appeared to be taking advantage of the vastness of the web and were camping out on various sections obviously hoping to grab any smaller prey that got caught which they could feast upon before the Orb Weaver could get to it.     According to my research there is actually a species of small spider that basically makes its living by camping out on Orb Weaver’s webs and stealing food, although I did not see any indication of that in the web that I was observing as the spiders that were camping out were a diverse bunch.

I hope that my growing colony of Golden Orb Weavers continues to thrive, although I am not sure my husband would agree should he encounter one while doing yard work.  Just to be on the safe side I am going to take him outside and introduce him to the ladies so that he knows what he is looking at and he knows that they are for the most part harmless.   It is after all only polite to introduce him to new visitors.

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