Orb Weaver Spiders: How to Identify and Rid Them

Orb weaver spiders and Common house spiders are directly responsible for many of the Halloween decorations sold yearly. The webs of these two spiders, woven from radial strands and fashioned into spoke wheel-shaped nets as large as three feet in diameter, have become iconic symbols of fear used in thousands of scary movies and book covers.

Orb weaver spider
Argiope pulchella Orb weaver spider

Orb weaver spiders: Description.

Orb weaver spiders come in many sizes and colors, but most are brightly hued and have conspicuously hairy or spiked legs. Orb weavers also have enormous abdomens that overlap (as seen in the photo above) the rear end of their cephalothorax.

The abdomens of orb weaver spiders also vary in texture (smooth or spiny), but most are irregularly shaped.

The color of an orb weaver spider indicates when it will be most active. Brighter-colored orb weavers hunt during the day. Earth-colored (brown and gray) orb weavers hunt primarily at night.

Orb weaver spider
Labyrinthine Orb Weaver Spider on Kennesaw Mountain

The behavior of Orb weaver spider.

Amongst the over 3,000 species of orb weaver spiders, there are various hunting and mating styles.

Most orb weavers spiders spend their day patiently hanging upside down in their webs, waiting for prey to fly or wander into them. These orb weavers remain motionless all day unless the temporarily move off their webs. 

When off its web, an orb weaver spider will find some cover, set up a trip/trap line, and wait for prey to become entangled. 

Unsuitable prey is ignored and allowed to die or cut free from the web and allowed to escape.

Suitable prey is bitten, immobilized, and wrapped for future meals or eaten on the spot.

Some orb weaver spiders are known for tearing down, consuming, and rebuilding or repairing their webs every night.

Orb weaver spiders: Reproduction.

The Orb weaver spider female does not live to see her young hatch from their eggs sac. All those female orb weaver spiders we see in the summer will have laid their last clutch of eggs, wrapped them in an egg sac, and perished during the winter. As soon as spring heats up the egg sacs, the spiderlings will safely emerge and begin the orb weaver spider lifecycle again.

The male orb weaver spider spends his life looking for a ready and willing mate. Because he is constantly off his web (if he ever even erects one), humans rarely see the male. Male orb weaver spiders have one desire and one goal, mating. When they are done, they quickly die.

Female orb weaver spiders spend their lives waiting for prey in their webs and for that eventual lucky male who will fertilize her eggs. That male, however, may not be lucky enough to survive his mate’s hunger—some males are consumed post-coitus by the females. No matter, the female will die as soon as the first frost arrives.

Orb weaver spiders
Waiting for dinner (Golden Orb Weaver spider – bottom)

Orb weaver spider: Diet.

If it is small enough and can fly, the orb weaver spider will eat it. Moths, flies, wasps, mosquitos, and beetles are common prey. Larger orb weaver spiders will also catch and kill the odd hummingbird or frog.

Are orb weaver spiders dangerous?

Even the larger orb weaver spiders do not cause a bite that is considered medically significant to non-allergic humans.

Orb weaver spiders will try to escape and evade humans and predators alike. However, when forced to, an orb weaver spider will bite. Such bites feel like bee stings and contain about as much venom.

How to get rid of orb weaver spiders.

Good housekeeping and yard maintenance are any spider’s worst nightmare. A clean home and yard prevent most of the spider’s natural prey from taking up residence, thereby making living conditions for the orb weaver spider untenable.

Use a pest-blocking foam to seal up any cracks or holes in your foundation, and repair or replace your door sweeps if needed. You might also consider a spider-controlling product to treat your home and yard.

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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 ThePredatorHunter.com.

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