Golden Silk Spider

Golden Silk Spider –  Trichonephila clavipes
(formerly Nephila clavipes)

Also called golden silk orb-weaver, golden orb-weaver, giant wood spider, or banana spider, this orb weaver is also found in Florida, being very common in the Everglades where its 3’-5’ diameter orb webs must be removed regularly from hiking trails so hikers don’t have to fight through sticky strands every few yards. The spider is not nearly that common here in Belize, but a walk along jungle edges may turn up a specimen if you’re lucky.

This is a large, colorful spider, orange, brown and white, with black furry tufts on its legs. It has a body length of 1½”- 2,” and a leg-span of 3½”- 5.” That’s pretty big and a maybe little scary, but you don’t have to worry about its bite because the venom from a golden silk spider bite typically has little effect on humans other than a brief local pain from being punctured, and mild redness that soon goes away. And it won’t bite unless you grab or pinch it. So don’t.

The web is very distinctive, first because it is huge, and secondly because the silk that makes up the wagon-wheel web glows golden in the sunlight. It’s sticky and strong enough to catch flying insects such as butterflies, moths, cicadas, cockroaches, grasshoppers, large beetles and even small birds. A single thread of that silk is eight times stronger than a strand of steel the same diameter

It is absorbing to watch one of these spiders working on its web, so if you are lucky enough to know where one has its web, you’ll have a daily grandstand seat at an intricate web dance as the spider replaces portions of its web when the stickiness of the strands dries and becomes less effective at trapping prey. You can find more information about it here.

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