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Species Leucauge venusta - Orchard Orbweaver

Leucauge venusta Smiley Spider - Leucauge venusta What spider, please - Leucauge venusta - male Male Orchard Orbweaver - Leucauge venusta - male Juvenile Leucauge venusta - Leucauge venusta Small, but very colorful spider - Leucauge venusta Orchard Orbweaver - Leucauge venusta Maybe Leucauge venusta spider ? - Leucauge venusta
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Chelicerata (Chelicerates)
Class Arachnida (Arachnids)
Order Araneae (Spiders)
Infraorder Araneomorphae (True Spiders)
No Taxon (Entelegynes )
Family Tetragnathidae (Long-jawed Orb Weavers)
Genus Leucauge
Species venusta (Orchard Orbweaver)
Other Common Names
Venusta Orchard Spider
Orchard Spider
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Orig. Comb: Epeira venusta Walckenaer, 1841
Syn: Leucauge mabelae (Mabel Orchard Spider) was formerly considered a separate species but was synonymized with L. venusta by Levi in 1980. (Norman Platnick, The World Spider Catalog)
Explanation of Names
venusta - Latin for beautiful
Numbers
2 spp. in the genus n. of Mex.
Size
Female body length 5.5 - 7.5 mm
Male body length 3.5 - 4.0 mm (1)
Identification

Slightly elongated abdomen marked with silver, yellow, black, green, and bright orange or pink spots. Spins its web at an angle and hangs in the center.(1)
Cephalothorax yellowish green, striped with brown along sides. Abdomen silvery above with dark stripes; sides yellow with red spot near tip, and red spot underneath. (enature.org)

The thing that catches our [JJB] eye about the very similar L. argyra (below, left) is that the three lines on the back run parallel only about halfway across the back when the outer two suddenly bend inward before flowing parallel once again to the end of the abdomen. L. venusta (below, right) is variable, but seems to have a single line that branches out into three about a quarter of the way which then flow parallel to the back. There's probably something much more importantly different, but we haven't noticed it yet. See

Continuing this discussion, we find that venusta has narrow black stripes, much less black on the sides and rear and instead often has much green or yellow or even those two extra large orange/red spots that were used to identify the formerly separated Mabel's Orchard Orbweaver. The underside has a large yellow to orange smile-shaped spot and the end of the abdomen is often filled with many variously colored and sized spots, giving an overall sense of color and not black. And it seems not unusual to see quite clearly on images of venusta a delightful fringe edge on the inner back legs, which we haven't seen yet on images of argyra (though we assume it's possible that it is there, too.) See a similar discussion on L. argyra here. Examine these 10 images of Leucauge venusta [JJB]:

Range
e. N. Amer: TX-FL-NH-NE / Ont. / Mex. to Brazil
Habitat
Woodlands. Builds in low shrubs or small trees, close to the ground.
Food
small insects
Life Cycle
egg mass is attached to leaves and twigs near web; spiderlings disperse and spin own webs
See Also
Leucauge argyra (see discussion of differences in Identification section above).
Males look similar to Neriene litigiosa
Print References
Walckenaer, C.A. 1841. Histoire naturelle des Insects. Aptères. Paris, 2: 1-549.
Internet References
floridanature.org - live adult images by Emily Earp and Josh Hillman, plus taxonomy and common name references [Orhard Orbweaver, Orchard Spider]
live adult image [by E.R. Degginger] plus common name reference [Venusta Orchard Spider] and other info (enature.org)
synonym and distribution (Norman Platnick, The World Spider Catalog, American Museum of Natural History)
Works Cited
1.Florida's Fabulous Spiders
Sam Marshall, G. B. Edwards. 2002. World Publications.