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Golden Orb-weaving Spider

Has anyone ever heard of a Golden Orb-weaving Spider? The park naturalist at Lake Cachuma, Santa Barbara County, California pointed one out to me today. It is a very large spider, tan-gold, more or less, with banded legs. It was weaving a web in some aquatic vegetation covering the water surface in a calm, shallow backwater of the lake. The spider was perhaps three inches in length or a little more, counting the legs, and mabe an inch long, not including the legs.

I have seached several field guides and this website without finding anything very close. Anyone ever heard of such a beast as a "golden" orb-weaver? Thanks!

What's in a Name?
At this point, it may not be practical with arthropods but I think standardized common names serve a purpose vis-a-vis scientific names. Somewhat ironically, standardized common names don’t change (as much) whereas scientific names do, especially in these days of genetic sequencing. Even in the face of lumping and splitting, common names retain usefulness. Learning scientific names may include learning synonyms as myriad as common names. Furthermore, I advise against scientific names being included in the common names (Black and Yellow Argiope) for the reason of changing scientific names.

Yellow Garden Spider
I have a beautiful yellow and black garden spider on my porch. She recently laid eggs in a brown silk ball that looks like a small fig. I have read that the spider will die shortly after laying her eggs? Is this true?
She is so pretty and I have truly enjoyed her company.

She should live all summer
and continue making egg sacs. Then she will die in the fall. You can read about her here

I'm curious about these spiders - one was recently living at a friend's house under an eave. My friend observed her everyday and saw a smaller spider approach her - presumably the male. Soon after, the large female deposited egg sacks - over time,three in all. About three weeks afterwards she moved; her egg sacks never changed and remain intact where she left them suspended under the eave. Has anyone any information on why no spiderlings emerged? - Or any mating / offspring rearing information about these spiders? I'm fascinated to know anything about the habits of this large and beautiful spider. Thank you

I had one
There was a huge one living in a fifteen foot web stretching from our shrubs to the roof of our house. I love these kinds of spiders, so I was feeding it grasshoppers nearly every day. One day it caught a poor cicada in its web. It just moved away today though, don't know where it went. It's web is still there, very intact. Pretty cool.

Edit: All spiders are poisonous. But not all are deadly. As far as I know, Weavers are only found in the US, so they are probably not very poisonous, because the most deadly spiders in the US are Brown Recluses and Black Widows, which are rarely deadly. SO the answer to the previous answerer is yes, it is, but most likely not very.

Please don't be part of the rumor mongering.
We already get a question every day from people who want to know if some poor spider is going to kill their child or their dog. Their child is much more likely to die from drinking beer, or from the pet dog, than from a spider bite. The only spiders in the US that one should be cautious around are the Recluse and the Widows and those both have life styles such that you are not going to interact with them unless you are sticking your fingers where they don't belong. The rest of the nine million spiders you are going to run into during your lifetime are completely harmless and actually beneficial. Will they bite, if tormented, to defend themselves? Certainly, though most of the smaller ones couldn't even break through the skin. And unless you are allergic to insect venom, which is an important issue, the bite will be much less trouble than a bee sting. Spiders are fine. They are not to be feared. If you want to fear something, fear your neighbor's dog. That can really hurt you.

Golden orb Weaving Spider
I found one of these near a swamp in my back yard, a buddy and i were kickin a soccer ball around and it landed beside her web, i think the one i found was pregnent because her rear was much larger then the pictures of the others but she had the same markings and colours so i took some pictures and looked it up, pretty big spider, i was wondering are they poisonous?

Mildly Poisonous
With a few minor exceptions, all spiders are venomous. In most cases, that just means a bite will hurt like a bee sting and maybe be red for a day or two. That's the case with this species.

The only seriously dangerous spiders in North America are the recluse/brown and the widow spiders. A couple of others will cause a slow-to-heal sore or give you a headache and make you feel ill for a few days.

Of course, with any natural substance there will be a few people who are sensitive (Some die from exposure to peanuts, for example). If you experience swelling/rashes away from the site of a bite or your throat gets tight- get medical attention immediately!

With the exception of social creatures like bees, and animals that actually feed on people, most bugs would much rather get away than bite or sting. It's only when they think they're trapped and about to die that they strike out. If you don't actually grab on to the spider, you're not likely to get bitten.

As with the daddy long legs discussion
common names will always be a problem. A "golden orb weaver" probably means a different animal in every different state or region and maybe something completely different in another country. Groups can try to legislate English names, but then they are not really common names anymore, they're English scientific names. We think people should be free to use the name for an animal that they grew up with or that their aunt and grandmother use. They are 'common' names. We should collect as many of them as we can and put them on the guide pages. But we suggest that serious students use the scientific binomials, however. They are just as easy to learn and there won't be any confusion about which animal you mean.

I wish I read this before
I started following Common Names of Arachnids 2003 Fifth Edition - The American Arachnological Society; Committee on Common Names of Arachnids. There, common name for Argiope aurantia is yellow garden spider but here in BugGuide it is Black & Yellow Argiope. Is there one source of common names? Where did the current common names come from? I understand the point about using scientific names. Nevertheless, as long as common names are used, it would be good to have a standard or a "master" list that we follow. Is "Common Names of Arachnids 2003 Fifth Edition" valid? If not, then oops! I may have to remove some common names that I added.

You may use whatever English name you like.
If you like the 5th edition, use them. It's that simple. If there are additional English names, there is a place on the guide page for adding them. People searching for them will be sent to the same guide page whether the name is at the top or in the text. Our point is simply that it strikes us as a little ridiculous to attempt to legislate English names and then call them "Common Names" when creatures have multiple common names in multiple languages and when they already have perfectly good scientific names. Argiope aurantia is not any harder to learn than yellow garden spider or Black and Yellow Argiope or Golden Orb-Weaving spider and ... there's no confusion about which creature you mean. Take a Jade Clubtail to a mall and show it to a hundred people. We're willing to bet that not a single one of those people will call it a Jade Clubtail. There is nothing Common about that name at all. It's a made up English name, and most insects don't even have that, let alone a common name, so you have to learn the scientific name for those anyway. Use whatever English name you like and if anyone criticizes any English name you use, we'll be right there to defend your right to use it.

Common name
We had the "official" common name of "Yellow Garden Spider" in there for some time, but someone changed it back to "Black and Yellow Argiope", did I miss something?

wasn't us!
you can change the English name to anything you think best as far as we're concerned

reminds me of the term
Yellowjacket, if it flies and has any yellow, probably even beatles. My mother will insist ist's a killer yellowjacket (confusing africanized bees/and wasps).. lol

-Gehan Gehale

Yes, we have it -
if you mean Nephila clavipes. See here for the guide. We have the common name listed as Golden Silk Spider, which is probably why you couldn't find it with your search - I have since updated it. It's very common in FL where I live. We don't have any images from CA though (click on data tab in guide to see map).

"Golden Orb-weaving Spider" \ Golden Silk Spider
I'm not sure whether this is Nephila clavipes or not. Everything seems more or less right, except that I'm not sure about the body shape. We were using binoculars from about 25'-- we were on a bridge, and couldn't approach any closer, so we couldn't see as much detail as we would have liked. Our specimen's abdomen, if that's the right term, appeared to be quite bulbous, or balloon-shaped, as opposed to the cylidrical shapes in the photos. However, it's by far the closest critter I can find to our spider.

I wasn't able to figure out the map under the Data tab. So far I haven't been able to determine whether Nephila clavipes lives in Southern or Central California. I'll keep digging. Thanks for your help!

A California Source
The Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History has a Common Spiders of Los Angeles Image Gallery
that lists the Black and Yellow Argiope as the Golden Orb-weaver.

This would be the same usage as Hogue's Insects of the Los Angeles Basin (1), which is the most widely available guide in southern California.

Thanks, Chuck!
That makes sense, as from my research Nephila is more of a southeastern and gulf states spider. Ah, the perils of common names.

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