Golden Orb-Weaver

Golden orb-weaver, Nephila clavipes.  It’s nearly impossible to go for a walk in the woods here without encountering one of these spectacular spiders.  They are huge, they are colorful, and they like to build their massive webs across trails right at face-level.  (My hand is in this photo to provide some scale.)

Their name comes from the fact that the silk of their webs is gold-colored.  The coloring is faint when you’re looking at individual strands, and I can only make it out in really good light, but if you’re interested today’s post on The Shell and Mantle includes a spectacular photo of golden fabric woven from their silk.  In any case, I generally find myself paying more attention to the spider herself than to her web!

I Googled “hair on spider legs,” curious about those bristles, and as far as I can discover their purpose is to help sense vibrations in the web.  Anyway, their colors and patterns are amazing.  The only thing I don’t like about them is walking into their webs – I’ll be striding down a trail through the woods, lost in thought, and suddenly I’ll have a mouthful of spiderweb and be checking frantically to make sure its builder isn’t crawling on me somewhere.  They aren’t dangerous at all, but still, no one wants three inches of spider crawling on their neck.

I forgot to check whether she had any males attending her.  One or two of the much smaller males will often hang out in a female’s web.