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The golden orb web spider

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The golden silk orb-spiders or weavers are a genus of spiders noted for the impressive webs they weave. Nephila consists of numerous individual species found around the world. They are also commonly called golden orb-weavers, giant wood spiders or banana spiders. The name of the golden silk orb-weavers refers to the color of the spider silk, not the color of the spider itself. Yellow threads of their web shine like gold in sunlight. The Golden Orb Web Spider above is not the largest spider, but makes the largest and strongest web. The web can run from the top of a tree 6m high and up to 2m wide. Unlike other spider webs, the Golden Orb Web Spider's web is not dismantled often and can last several years. The silk is so strong that it can trap small birds, which the spider doesn't eat. These trapped creatures often destroy the web by thrashing around. To avoid such damage, the spider often leaves a line of insect husks on its web like the safety strip across glass doors!; or builds smaller barrier webs around the main web.

 

Photo of the Golden Orb Web Spider taken in the forest of the bolaven plateau - Laos. Her web were high up in the tree. Not so easy to shoot. Zoom range at 320 mm, F3.3, 1/40s and ISO 400. After the rain the sun started shining which gives this lovely bokeh.

 

The male is many times smaller than the female, some are 1,000 smaller! There are suggestions that it is not a case of the males being dwarves, but the females being giants 5 cm! The male is so tiny that he can live on the female's web, stealing her food, often without her even noticing him. She may not even notice that he has crept up and inseminated her! Nevertheless, just to be sure, he usually does the deed when she is feeding. In some, mating can take up to 15 hours! The female lives only slightly longer than the male. The Golden Orb Web Spider's venom is generally harmless to humans and they rarely bite even if we blunder into and destroy their webs. The bite is just a scratch. Spiders are not used to produce silk fabric because Silkworm Moth caterpillars produce twice as much silk and are easier to manage (for example, they don't eat each other up!!). But fishermen remove Nephila webs and form them into a ball, which is thrown into the water. There it unfolds and is used to catch fish.

   

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Taken on July 16, 2009