Scientific Classification: of the Nephila genus.
Alternative Names: golden orb-weavers, giant wood spiders, banana spiders
Location: they are found throughout Australia
- Nephila comes from the greek language and means ‘love of spinning’.
- These spiders live in warmer climates throughout the world, such as northern Austrlaia, Asia, Africa, and central America.
- There are several species of golden orb weavers, with a variety of colours like silvery grey, plum and light green, but they often have stripey, banded legs.
- It is not the spider that is golden, it’s their intricate web. Some webs can be 1 metre in diameter, they are usually spun from human eye level upwards so make sure you are watching were you are going! Various compounds contribute to the golden colour of the web, which is believed attracts more insects. People have tried to make clothes from the silk.
- The spider has venom similar to black widow spiders but it is not as aggressive and is not lethal to humans.
- Females are usually larger than males at around 5cm long (not including legspan!!), and the largest recorded spider was 6.9cm long. These spiders are so big, they have been seen feeding on small birds, bats and snakes, but they usually eat the regular smorgasboard of insects like flies, cicadas, locusts and moths.
- Their main predators are wasps, who land on their web and pretend to be a damsel in distress. The spider comes over, is stung by the wasp and is carried away to be devoured in the wasp’s den.
- These are the oldest genus of spiders in the world – a fossilsed specimen was discovered to be 165 million years old!
Cuteness Rating: none… totally gross.
Danger Rating: if you get bitten, go seek medical help. You’ll have redness and soreness and blisters, but beware of an allergic reaction. Just don’t touch them, ok?!
We’ve seen plenty of these, much to Juz’s dismay. The first scare was in Meckering – Juz went to visit the rose garden and shortly afterwards returned to the Troopy white and wide eyed.
There were plenty of hairy moments due to poorly positioned webs in Kakadu National Park. It seems they like to construct their traps in places that would have a lot of insects, such as near water, in and around toilet blocks or lit up picnic shelters, or on flowering bushes that attract bees.
Juz’s anarachnophobia allows her to take pictures of spiders, provided that they are still and she is aware of them and any others that may be around her. If they move or she is confronted with a surprise spider, then she is the first to bolt in the opposite direction. This does not count for Jumping Spiders – they are super cute.