Top 10 Facts about Banana or Golden Orb Spiders

I can classify the Homo Sapiens or the human species into three broad categories – one, who are scared of spiders; second, who just pick them up and kill them or smash them with their slippers; and third, the jumpers, the ones who jump on the bed, the couch, the table, the counter, basically anything in the sight as soon as they see these little beasts.

The crawling insects (no matter how little they are) can be beautiful. I know, I know I sound like a mad person, but trust me, there are spiders which can look amazing, their preying instincts or the intricate webs they weave, they can do some amazing stuff. One such beautiful type is the Banana spiders, more specifically, the Golden Orb species.

Top 10 Facts about Banana or Golden Orb Spiders

They are spiders with a splatter of bright colors from red to yellowish green and striped legs. They are known for a number of reasons like the complex and long webs they build or the sturdy silk they give. Here are 10 amazing facts that you probably don’t know about the kind which might help you see the pretty part of them.

  1. They go by various names

The golden orb isn’t the only name used to identify these spiders, they are known to have several names. You might know them as the golden silk orb-weaver, or the giant wood spider, the writing spider maybe, or the calico spider.

You can call them whatever you like but the most common name they go by is the golden orb spiders.

  1. They are poisonous

But only mildly. There bite will cause you discomfort but not enough for you to die – unless of course, you die of the shock first. Their bite is potent, the poison is similar to that of black widows, but nowhere near as powerful.

You can expect some blisters or swelling around the bite but that’s about it. The scenario may not be as much in your favor in case of allergies. If you turn out to have allergies to the venom, an immediate medical consultation should be your choice for it can prove to be dangerous otherwise.

  1. You can find them on 4 continents

These spiders are all over the place. You may find them in the United States of America, mostly the Southern-east part – Texas to North Carolina. They can also be located in Asia, Africa, and Australia. They prefer humid and warm regions. You can look for them in your gardens or backyards the next time you go wandering around, for they like to reside near plants and flowers.

  1. They vary according to their gender in size

A generally non-violent species, their size differs according to their gender. The females are the larger ones. In fact, in Florida, the female golden orb spiders are the biggest spiders. They are known to grow about two inches in size, excluding the leg span. If you include the leg span, some spiders of the species can go beyond 5 inches – and you were scared of the little ones. The biggest recorded golden orb was found back in Australia and was a female spider, a 2.7 inches long female, excluding the leg span.

  1. Their web is golden

The golden silk weaver is an indication enough that their silk is a golden color. They actually weave webs with a beautiful yellow color silk which appears golden in the sunlight. According to scientists, this serves two important purposes. One, it is easy to attract smaller insects. The bright sunlit strands attract and trap the bees which later becomes food for these spiders. Secondly, the color is an amazing camouflage. The color blends easily with the background, and easily traps the unsuspecting bees and insects.

Not only the color is an interesting thing to note, but the pattern in itself is amazing. They weave a rather complex web, a zig-zag pattern which can be changed in color to suit it according to the background.

  1. The silk can be woven into textiles

The spider silk is amazingly powerful. It is stronger than Kevlar fiber, a fiber used in the making of bulletproof vests. The silk has been tried to be woven into articles of clothing, and even though there is no commercially viable solution to it, there have been instances like in the 1900s, when 2 bed hangings were created out of the silk and were displayed at the Paris Exhibition of 1900.

Moreover, in 2004, Textile designer, Simon Peers and Entrepreneur, Nicholas Godley produced a shawl created using the golden silk. The shawl took 3 years to be produced successfully, and in 2009 was displayed at the American Museum of Natural History. The duo went on to produce a cape in 2012 from the silk. Both the articles were displayed at Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

  1. The golden silk turns into a fishing net

The clothes, even though possible, are not a real application of the silk. Not until we find more economically feasible ways to do so. However, the silk has one application that has benefitted a number of Fishermen of the Indopacific Ocean. The fishermen are known to use the silk to catch fishes. They make balls with the golden silk which when tossed into the ocean disentangle to form a fishing net. The nets are really durable given the strength of the silk.

  1. They are fond of spinning

The Latin name for the Golden orb spiders is Nephila clavipes, which roughly translates to ‘fond of spinning’.

It is possible that the name is the result of the intricate web designs and the work that is put into creating the webs. Their webs can be one meter wide with an orb-shaped centre. The spiders first start with a spiral of a non-sticky thread, which is then filled with sticky threads. The spiders reconstruct the web regularly to maintain its effectiveness.

  1. The females rule!

The females and males have a rather interesting mating procedure, both the female and the male spider die after mating. However, it is the female spider who eats the male. The female golden orb spiders are relatively more aggressive and hence, need to be dealt with carefully before being approached for mating.

The female spiders are sexually active when they are in their final molt. The male approaches the female by vibrating his abdomen; the species is really sensitive to vibrations given their poor sight. The female after the mating spins two egg sacs about 1 inch in diameter. The female lives up to a month after this and eats their male counterpart before dying. The hundreds of eggs have to fend for themselves based on their instincts.

  1. They are the oldest living spider species

After having found fossils which are about 165 million years old, these golden orb spiders are known to be the oldest living spider species. They belong to Nephila genus and are predators by nature.

They are even considered to be beneficial for they eat most of the insects that can be really annoying to have in the garden like mosquitoes, bees, flies, small moths, butterflies, grasshoppers, and wasps.

Still scared of them?


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Anubhooti Jain

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