What kind of Spider did I see?

Have you seen me lately? I’m an Orb Weaver Spider and I look like this…

orb-weaverNormally, all you hear about are the Brown Recluse Spiders here in the St. Louis area. But, today we are going to talk about the Orb Weaver Spider.
Unlike the Brown Recluse, that lives mostly indoors, the Orb Weaver is an outside spider. Typically, you don’t see them until mid-September, but with all the rain, they are out early and in full force!
Orb Weavers vary in colors, sizes and shapes. The most common Orb Weaver here in the St. Louis area is the one pictured above. This Orb Weaver will have bands around its legs. The webs of orb weavers consist of radial strands, like spokes of a wheel and concentric circles. Most build their webs vertically, attaching them to branches, stems or manmade structures. Webs may be quite large, spanning several feet in width.

Most orb weavers are nocturnal. During the daylight hours, the spider may retreat to a nearby branch or leaf but will spin a trapline from the web. Any slight vibration of the web will travel down the trapline. The orb weaver possesses venom, which is used to immobilize her prey.
When threatened by people or most anything larger than itself, an orb weaver’s first response is to flee. Rarely, if handled, it will bite, but the bite is mild.

The Orb Weaver Diet

Like all spiders, orb weavers are carnivores. They feed primarily on insects and other small organisms entrapped in their sticky webs. Some larger orb weavers may even consume hummingbirds or frogs!

Orb Weaver Life Cycle

Male orb weavers occupy most of their time with finding a mate. Most males are much smaller than the females and after mating he may become her next meal! The female waits on or near her web, letting the males come to her. She lays eggs in clutches of several hundred, encased in a sac. During the winter, the female orb weaver will lay a large clutch in the fall and wrap it in thick silk. She will die when the first frost arrives, leaving her babies to hatch in the spring. Orb weavers live one to two years, on average.

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