This stunning and large dame is a Golden Orb Web Spider, officially known as the banded legged nephilia. They are found all across the world and are aptly named for the gorgeous, strong, golden-coloured webs they weave. They can control the golden pigmentation levels of their webs as well as which strands of silk are sticky and which are non-sticky. The golden hues are said to a) attract yummy bees in the sunlight and b) to camouflage into the surrounding foliage in the shadows. The silk strands are extremely strong, and small birds can be easily trapped in the webs. It is claimed, that if one were able to weave the silk strands into the thickness of a small pencil, then the woven string could withstand and repel a 747 jet at maximum speed!
The females are the ones who weave the webs and can be up to 10 times the size of the males. Males typically free-load on the females’ webs, eating and resting. When a male wants to mate, he’ll either “tap, tap, tap” on the edge of the web to make sure the female is in a good mood, or he’ll bring her a snack to eat! While she’s eating and distracted by her yummy snack, he’ll sneak up, stab her abdomen with his male part, injecting his semen and then run away before she can eat him. Who says that the way to a woman’s heart isn’t through her stomach?!
The females, like the good gatherers they are, will have a “pantry” section on their web. There they can store up to 15 future meals or possible bait for fresh food. The ladies are very tidy, as they vertically arrange these foodstuffs, and keep them wrapped in silk in order to keep them from dehydrating.
Golden Orb Web Spiders are completely stunning, relatively harmless to humans with their mild neurotoxin, and are an absolute treat to see in the bush. It’s the small things in life.