The Cat-faced spider, also known as the Jewel Spider, is a harmless orb-weaver found throughout Canada and the USA. Its low-toxicity venom makes it an ideal natural predator to keep insect populations in check!
Cat-Faced Spider: Identification.
As widely known, the cat-faced spider is an orb weaver species found throughout the Western United States. Its name derives from its distinct body shape – if viewed from the front, it appears “cat-faced,” while others find that its form resembles a diamond or precious jewel. This insect comes in many vibrant colors and hues ranging from white to bright orange and dark brown tones.
The Cat-faced spider is a small creature that typically reaches lengths between 0.2 and 1 inch. In addition, this spider species have much shorter legs than its large abdomen size.
The Cat-faced spider is a unique species with two horn-shaped protrusions on its sizeable abdomen and coloration that adapts to the season. It can be found near light fixtures, in small spaces, or on the sides of buildings, hidden under wood piles, overhangs, and animal burrows. This arachnid’s presence offers nature enthusiasts an exciting opportunity for exploration.
Cat-faced spider: Behavior.
Female Cat-faced spiders have a short lifespan of only several days, during which they lay an egg sac with hundreds of eggs that can survive throughout the winter. The hatched spiderlings, who are often cannibalistic and eat their siblings, disperse by riding on strands of silk in warm air currents – sometimes even traveling miles away!
Females tend to be stockier, while males have longer bodies and smaller abdomens; both hunt for prey such as fish flies, houseflies, mosquitoes, and occasionally other tiny spiders.
Cat-faced spider: Web building.
Cat-faced spiders need to protect their webs from damage done by the elements of wind, rain, and sun. The following is from Orb-web Orientation and Modification by the Spiders Araneus diadematus and Araneus gemmoides (Araneae: Araneidae) in Response to Wind and Light. Craig S. Hieber
“Most orb-weaving spiders (Araneidae) possess the behavioral capacity to orient and modify their planar webs in response to wind and direct sunlight. These behaviors have generally been interpreted as tactics to avoid thermal loading of the spider or damage to the web. However, previous studies have focused primarily on diurnal araneids that sit at the hubs of their webs in exposed habitats. Here the orientations and modifications of the webs to wind and light for Araneus diadematus and Araneus gemmoides, two spiders which use retreats in less exposed habitats, are examined.
Light had no effect on the web structure of A. diadematus or on its web orientation. Araneus gemmoides, however, demonstrated a significant perpendicular orientation of the plane of the web to light; a response which is probably to increase prey interception rather than control isolation.
In response to wind, A. diadematus demonstrated a significant reduction in the surface area of the web, while A. gemmoides demonstrated a significant parallel orientation of the web to wind with no change in web structure. The responses of both spiders to wind resemble behaviors shown by other orb-weavers, and probably function to avoid web damage. These responses to wind and light are related to the use of a retreat, and to differences in web building behavior and habitat.”
Further recommended reading about spiders.
Spider pages: Learn how to identify and avoid these spiders.