Orb-weaving Spiders

Orb-weaving Spiders – Araneidae

Orb-weaving spiders are the famous builders of the quintessential circular spider web, however, this family includes a great diversity of spiders both in appearance and behaviour. They most commonly have four small eyes clustered in a square at the front of the head, and two off to either side. 

Many spiders in this family are strictly nocturnal, hiding by day and hunting or building webs by night such as the Garden Orb-weavers (Eriophora species). Exceptions to this include the Cross Spiders (Argiope species) and Golden Orb-weavers (Nephila and Trichonephila species) which sit in their webs 24 hours a day waiting for prey. Many of those that sit in the webs all day are brightly coloured or have webs which make it hard for predators such as birds to get to them. Those that emerge at night are often well camouflaged which enables them to hide well during the day.

Some species in this group don’t make webs, but have evolved other ingenious ways to capture their prey. Bolas spiders such as the Magnificent Spider (Ordgarius magnificus) whirl a thread with a bolas of glue-like silk on the end to catch moths. Others such as the Bird-dropping Spider (Celaenia excavata) simply lure their prey directly to them by releasing chemicals similar to those used by female moths to attract mates.

All spiders in this group are regarded as relatively harmless to humans.

Example Australian species

Cryptic Orb-weaver – Acroaspis species

Cryptic Orb-weaver - Acroaspis species

Scorpion-tailed Spider – Arachnura higginsi

Scorpion-tailed Spider - Arachnura higginsi

Pointy Orb-weaver – Araneus acuminatus

Pointy Orb-weaver - Araneus acuminatus

Winged Orb-weaver – Araneus albotriangulus

Winged Orb-weaver - Araneus albotriangulus

Speckled Orb-weaver – Araneus circulissparsus

Speckled Orb-weaver - Araneus circulissparsus

St Andrew’s Cross Spider – Argiope keyserlingi

St Andrew's Cross Spider

Jewel Spider – Austracantha minax

Jewel Spider -Austracantha minax

Bird-dropping Spider – Celaenia excavata

Bird-dropping Spider

Forked Orb-weaver – Cyclosa trilobata

Forked Orb-weaver - Cyclosa trilobata

Tent Spider – Cyrtophora cylindroides

Orb-weaving spiders Tent Spider - Cyrtophora cylindroides

Tent Spider – Cyrtophora moluccensis

Tent Spider - Cyrtophora moluccensis

Wrap-a-round Spider – Dolophones species

Wrap-a-round Spider - Dolophones species

Garden Orb-weaver – Eriophora biapicata

Garden Orb-weaver – Eriophora transmarina

Northern Jewel Spider – Gasteracantha fornicata

Four-spined Jewel Spider – Gasteracantha quadrispinosa

Giant Golden Orb-weaver – Nephila pilipes

Detachable Penis Spider – Nephilengys papuana

Magnificent Bolas Spider – Ordgarius magnificus

Leaf-curling Spider – Phonognatha graeffei

Enamel Spider – Plebs bradleyi

Two-spined Orb-weaver – Poecilopachys-australasia

Rough Twig Mimic – Poltys-illepidus

Golden Orb-weaver – Trichonephila edulis

Coastal Golden Orb-weaver – Trichonephila plumipes