Spotted and Spinybacked Orbweavers
Two orbweaving genera present in southern area, the Spotted Orbweavers and the Spinybacked Orbweavers, provide a nice contrast for orb weavers.
While many people might not associate spiders with shapes and colors, these species show both features.
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Types of Spiders
Six Neoscona species spin their webs in North America, although only four species are widely distributed. Three of the four species are presented here.
Spotted Orbweavers share many physical traits with spider species in the Araneus genus, especially having rounded abdomens.
Often, but not always, the presence of red banded or strongly banded legs serves as a good first identification pointer for the spider being a spotted orbweaver.
For their size, they build larger than average webs.
The spotted orbweaver in the top picture, Neoscona crucifera, inhabits most areas of eastern North America.
The presence of a light or dark cross pattern on the abdomen gives the spider its name.
Neoscona domiciliorum, also sometimes called the spotted orbweaver, is a native species of the Southeast and Gulf Coast states.
The picture highlights the spider's red banded legs and dark patterned abdomen.
Picture three shows a Western Spotted Orbweaver (Neoscona oaxacensis), a native species of the Southwest from California to Texas.
Physical differences within the species are often noted.
The two triangular marks at the top of the abdomen, followed by the smaller oval marks, represent one typical N. oaxacensis pattern.
Gasteracantha cancriformis, as it is formally called, is a small, colorful spider with six small spikes protruding from its abdomen.
The species is found in forest areas throughout the southern areas of the United States, south through much of South and Central America.
G. cancriformis is the only species in the genus native to the United States, although G. mammosa, the Asian Spinybacked Spider, is found in Hawaii.
The top picture shows a white form. The bottom picture shows a yellow form. While they may look a bit scary, their bite is not considered dangerous.
A 1912 text called The Spider Book noted: "A remarkable feature of the webs of this species is the frequent occurrence in them of series of flocculent tufts of silk attached to either the radii or to some of the foundation lines. These tufts are composed of a mass of fine threads, like those of which a stabilimentum is made."
© 2005-2013 Patricia A. Michaels