Sunday, April 19, 2009

Livelife 1 - Nephila edulis

As a counterpoint to the deadlife that usually populates this blog, I'll be posting some images of livelife that has occasionally interrupted the search for said deadlife.

Nephila edulis, or the golden orb weaver, (click image to enlarge) is common throughout the Flinders Ranges, and is an FBS, where the B and S stand for Big Spider. This one is about 15 cms (around 6 inches) in total length. The female always builds the web, as the males generally live on the periphery of her web and are usually about 1 cm (0.5 inch) long. She will sit in the centre, next to her tube of spoils, maintaining contact with the web, ready to pounce on anything unlucky enough to get trapped, and bring it back to her tube of spoils.

As befits a FBS, she builds a FBW where the B and W stand for Big Web. The central web is 120+ cm (4+ ft) long, and usually stretches across a clearing between two large bushes. In other words right across where you would normally walk. In other words right across where you would normally walk while looking down at the ground (because you are a geologist and the ground is where the rocks are).

If you are lucky, the centre of the web is at chest height, or above head height.

If you are lucky.

You aren't always lucky.

However, the local name for them is "drop-off spider" because, if you are unfortunate enough to encounter a web, the spider will generally drop off the web, or you, rather than bite (they have small jaws anyway and on the rare occasion that they bite, the results are not too bad).

Very polite of them considering the amount of work that went into the structure you have just destroyed.

The web framework is incredibly strong and will actually resist breaking, so you are in no doubt that you have just encountered one.


  1. I have a friend who swears blind that he was knocked off a dirt bike near Alice Springs by a golden orb web. Having seen the ones they grow in Queensland, I believe him.

  2. Yes we in the south east of the US have Nephila clavipes. Huge and terrifying when you happen to walk face first into a web... which I've done more than a few times.

  3. Awesome. Love my arachnids. Back In Beulah Park (Adelaide, eastern burbs) I had a backyard full of orbs. I took a regular census and even saw them brawling a couple of times over the best web-mounting spots. In east Melbourne now (Caulfield) and it looks like word spread of my arachno-love. Checkit:

  4. Seeing a whole collection of 5-6 foot webs in the early morning glistening with dew makes the prettiest "DO NOT WALK HERE" sign!

  5. I have this spider at my house. I am a mother of four and this spider, whom we named 'LESLIE' has taken up residence in our kitchen window. It has been amost interesting project to watch her take over the entire window and outside her web even has anchor points to the top of the roof. She has lived there for several months now and we have watched her perfectly space her web sewings. Then one day we noticed her web was a little crooked and noticed that the part she had rebuilt was in fact due to the fact she had lost a leg during the night. She is a very busy spider constantly fixing up her web or pulling apart old pieces. She wraps them in a ball under her belly and when the ball gets too big she drops it in the garden. She has snappled up various bugs and wrapped them in web before biting them. Two days ago she was gone! Oh my a big hole in the centre of huge web. Where was she? I had to go look but expected a bird had found her. No, she had left her web for the first time in months. She had walked around to the top eaves on the other corner of the house and spun a gold reel, not a web as before. Tiny, tiny, knitted bright yellow ball of web. She was so busy day in and night out then today I see a white thread running through the middle of the web. Obviously she has laid a row of eggs that look like a cotton bud but regardless she stands guard over the top of them and just looks at me. I have a terrible fear of spiders mind you but once you give something a name, a lot of fear can disappear. However, should she jump on me....... Michelle.

  6. It doesn't matter how hard you look for these webs and how many you dodge there's always more that you don't see in time. Never got bitten though, just hysterical! Between the spiders and the spinifex I really don't miss the Centre much.