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orange spider on a tree branch 1 - Araneus gemma

orange spider on a tree branch 1 - Araneus gemma
Eagle Rock (NE LA), Los Angeles County, California, USA
November 20, 2008
Size: approx. 1.75" diameter
At a potluck at the Eagle Rock rec center park, some kids found this spider. It was on a tree branch. It may or may not have had a web, the kids kindof poked at the spider to see if it was real and if it would move, so hard to tell by the time I got there. It was very non-aggressive. The park is along the front face of the foothills (San Rafael Hills), with some wilderness and the freeway closest. It was a very warm, dry day, and these photos were taken in the late afternoon. I can find no other pix of any spiders like this in spider guide or spider key -type websites. Someone others have found the same and¤t=PIC_0013.jpg
The thing that really stands out to me is the weird abdomen that looks like a small potato!! Please help us ID this spider. The kids REALLY want to know!

Images of this individual: tag all
orange spider on a tree branch 1 - Araneus gemma orange spider on a tree branch 2 - Araneus gemma

Potato spider!
I've been searching for this spiders name, and found it online from UNL listed as a potato spider. There are several sub-species called potato spider, but they all look similar. They are big, the largest spider I've ever seen with my own eyes, not just a picture. It was on my little girls bed, proudly marching along like he owned the place! Not aggressive,but scared me to death, so I grabbed a magazine and swatted it. guess what ! The upper body popped like a balloon, and when I looked under the magazine, it
LOOKED like a popped balloon, and hundreds of tiny little baby spiders were running in every direction from the popped body! I kid you not! I had a couple of kids there with me to see the whole thing or I'm sure no one would have believed the story. It's a great memory between me and my Dr. Daughter :-). She, unlike her mother, still likes bugs

Araneus spiders do not bear live young, but rather lay eggs.
So if you had been seeing what was inside the body, you might have seen immature eggs, but not baby spiders. On the other hand, a female wolf spider does carry her young around on her back for a while after they hatch. It is likely that what you saw was a wolf spider carrying her young on her back and when you unfortunately killed her, the young scattered.

i actually caught this bug
but before i found out how to preserve it. the bod was starting to be juicy :( i have never seen this kind of spider and it was pretty big. i had found it behind a leaf on a rose bush next to a peach tree. hopefully ill see another one and properly preserve it

p.s. im in a southern California region

the name of this spider
it is called a potato spider. I am not sure if that is the technical name of it, but that is what i found out!! hope this helps!!!

potato spider
Oh, wow! Thanks Mary, I had never heard of a potato spider, but the pix that I found based on that name, really look like the one I saw!
And yes, it's an orb weaver, so thanks to John and Jane also!

The link that I found with pictures and this name is at

Take care, and thanks again!

Looks to be an orb weaver
in the genus Araneus. Maybe A. gemmoides?

Maybe Gemma?
I am thinking this may be a gemma. It has the white line, and I've found an orange form that matches. See

thanks -- but I wonder ...
I don't know much about spiders, but the abdominal area looks, to me, quite different in the SDNHM pix and in mine. The colors look very similar, and the banding on the legs. But the abdominal area on mine looks like a potato attached to the spider's body. The orange one in the pix has an abdomen that looks to me more like that of the body of a crab.

Any further thoughts?
Thanks so much for trying to pursue this!!!
Cheers, -- Mala

Body shape
I'm pretty sure the body shape is the same on both. It just seems different because of the different angles of the photos.

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