Six-Spotted Orb Weaver

2012 July 18

I was out sweeping an insect net through the new grass on May 15, 2010, and this attractive little maroon-and-white spider was one of the things I found in it. The insect net has 8 mesh openings per centimeter, and its body is four mesh openings long, so it is only 5 mm, which is medium-to-small as spiders go.

I thought its general body shape looked like an orb-weaver, but since I didn’t see its web it was hard to be sure. So I posted it to BugGuide, where John and Jane Balaban recognized it as a Six-Spotted Orbweaver, Araniella displicata. This species is pretty variable in color, ranging from maroon, to mostly white, to mostly yellow. But they almost always have those six black spots with white rims on their abdomens, which BugGuide calls “somewhat diagnostic” (as in, sometimes it is eight spots, and sometimes the spots are faint). The spots are certainly visible in this specimen, though.

I unfortunately didn’t get a really clear shot of the face, but this shot does show most of the eyes, and we can sort of see the pedipalps, which are kind of bulging. I wouldn’t say that the bulging pedipalps prove that it’s a male, seeing as how this could easily be an immature spider, but it does strongly suggest that.

It is kind of weird that a spider would be so colorful, one would think that given their lifestyle, camouflage would be better. There do seem to be a number of brightly-colored orbweaver spiders, though, so they must get some benefit from it. I suppose they could have chemical defenses, or maybe they are just adept at biting birds on their tongues if eaten.

2 Responses
  1. July 18, 2012

    I love the matter-of-fact opening phrase to this post: “I was out sweeping an insect net through the new grass”. I literally laughed out loud. It sounded like the kind of pastime that would be allowed at the local sanitarium while men in white coats watched over you with firm, but kind gazes.

    Have you ever thought about how blogs have allowed some of us to fully engage our stranger passions? It’s wonderful, really. I’m sure my wife thought me quite mad, in a harmless sort of way, for building my camera pressure test jig.

    And now, off to read your post and look at your lovely photos.

  2. July 19, 2012

    Well, when you put it *that* way, it does sound a bit odd.

    I suppose that blogs are allowing any of us who want to, to indulge our inner “Eccentric English Gentleman”. We obviously can’t all be English, or members of the gentry, but “eccentric” is something anyone can aspire to.

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