Marbled Orb Weaver Spiders: How to Identify and Avoid.

Marbled orb weaver spiders were my favorite spider and the ones I brought home the most as a kid spider collector. Today, I would describe Araneus marmoreus as stylish. The six-year-old me just thought they were cool looking.

My favorite spider today is the Goldenrod Crap spider, but I didn’t discover them until I was much older. Perhaps that should be a warning to my readers I have been an unfaithful spider-lover. How much trust can you place in a man who lets his affections change willy nilly?

In my defense and in an admitted attempt to justify my actions, feast your eyes on this incredible lady. And forgive me for thinking she is the super model of spiders.

Marbled orb weaver spiders
Marbled orb weaver. Photo credit: Shutterstock/Alex Conan.

Marbled orb weaver Spiders: Description.

Marbled orb spiders are part of the genus Araneus which, with nearly 1,500 species worldwide, makes it the largest spider genus. 

Author’s note: Before the internet, I had to visit the town library weekly to look things up. I always believed Marbled orb spiders were in the Thomisidae family (due to the oversized back reaching over the cephalothorax. And I apologize for the spiders that escaped my glass jars in that library. 

Adult female Marbled orb weavers, like the one pictured above, can get as large as .8 inches in body length. Marbled orb weavers have orange heads and orangish red bands on their legs. Their huge abdomens are yellow with black or dark purpled marbled markings.

Male marbled orb weavers are 1/2 the size of the females.

Marbled orb weaver spider: Habitat.

The marbled orb weaver is found from Texas to North Dakota and the east to the Atlantic States. In addition, it is found throughout Alaska and Canada.

Marbled orb weavers live near water sources like ponds, rivers, streams, and creeks and make their webs in the wooded areas and vegetation (tall grasses, brush, shrubs, cattails, and reeds) nearby.

Marbled orb weaver spider: Webs

Marbled orb weaver spider webs run vertically and have a single alert thread the spider uses as a trip wire. This trip wire allows the marbled orb weaver to remain hidden in its silken retreat off to the side of the web (and away from the view of potential predators). 

The web of a marbled orb spider is exceptionally sticky. Any insect landing in it will be unable to remove itself with a, and maybe despite, any considerable struggles. These struggles are signaled by vibrations to the waiting marbled orb weaver nearby, and it quickly runs out and captures its victim.

What makes the web of a marbled orb weaver such a terrible thing to get entangled in is the tiny droplets of glycoproteins that dot each silken thread. These droplets are so sticky an insect cannot remove itself or even a single leg, limb, or wing once it has made contact with them.

Marbled orb weaver webs are impossible to escape.

In this article it was noted:

“Blundering into a sticky spider’s web is unpleasant enough, even when you are large and can tear free. But for smaller creatures, impacting a web is a death sentence. Brent Opell and colleagues from Virginia Tech, USA, explain that the stickiness of a web depends on the stretchiness of the adhesive globules that are dotted along the spiral thread.

‘When an insect flies into an orb web, its legs, wings and body present different textures to the web’s sticky threads and the insect’s struggle to escape generates forces whose magnitude and direction change rapidly’, says Opell.”

The marbled orb weaver, however, is immune to these adhesives and quickly races along the spiral, wagon-shaped web and delivers a paralyzing venom with a quick bite.

Inside these retreats, the female marbled orb weaver spider will lay and store her eggs in an eggs sac in October. The females will perish with the first frost, but the egg sac and eggs will survive, and the spiderlings will emerge the following spring.

Marbled orb weaver spiders recycle their webs every day.

According to “Water harvesting during orb web recycling, “ by Brent D. Opell.

“Many araneoid orb weaving spiders construct a new web each day. Before doing so, they take down and ingest their existing web (Carico 1986), allowing them to recycle some of the web’s low molecular mass compounds and proteins in the next web they construct (Townley & Tillinghast 1988).

This adds to the economy of web production and ensures that components, such as choline, which is important for glue droplet hygroscopicity and cannot be synthesized by a spider, are not lost (Townley et al. 2006Townley & Tillinghast 2013Jain et al. 2018).”

Are Marbled orb weaver spiders dangerous?

No. The bite and venom of marbled orb weaver spiders are not medically significant in non-allergenic humans.

Wearing gloves and avoiding female marbled orb weaver spiders in their retreat will prevent most bites. However, you can expect stinging pain that feels like a wasp sting and some swelling for a few days if bitten.

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Dennis V. Gilmore Jr.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr. is a former Marine Sergeant and the author of several books, including two on night hunting coyotes and red and gray fox. He has written several hundred articles on predator hunting for

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