Nephila clavipes (Golden Silk Orbweaver)
I know that for many people, the phrase, “one of my favorite spiders” is not even a thing. Nevertheless, this is one of my favorite spiders. The Golden Silk Orbweaver (Nephila clavipes) is quite large. Nothing like a tarantula and only hairy at the leg joints, but still pretty good sized. The body of females grow up to almost 2 inches. This on is about an inch and a half. The male, seen at the top of the picture, is considerably smaller. North Carolina is about as far north as this spider is found but it is fairly common in the marshy woods here. Because of their size, they are fairly easy to spot. That’s just as well because you probably won’t be happy when you walk into the web as you go through the woods.
The silk from this spider is a golden color. Scientists have analyzed the dragline silk of this spider’s web and attempted to reproduce its proteins artificially for use in high-strength fabrics.
Leucauge venusta (Orchard Orbweaver)
I had a meeting in one of the other buildings on campus this afternoon. I took my camera with me, as I often do, and went into the woods between the buildings on my way back. Below the pond there is a stream and to the side of that, an old settling pond that’s almost completely silted up. The water isn’t more than six inches deep although I wouldn’t be surprised if the soft mud is another foot deep below that. I walked along the side of that and took a few pictures of a red cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis ) before spotting this little spider, and orchard orbweaver (Leucauge venusta). I managed to get down onto the ground without getting too wet and got a few pictures, although a tripod would have been a big help. These are pretty little things and of course they eat things that I don’t particularly like. So they’re my friends.