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What Type of Spider is this? - Araneus

What Type of Spider is this? - Araneus
Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, USA
September 24, 2005
Size: 1 1/2 -2" with legs
Hi Everyone,

Any help identifying this spider? I'm new to spider identification, but it looks like a garden orb I think. Is this correct? It lives on the outside of one of my windows and has a round web. Is this type of spider dangerous? He doesn't spend much time in his web (usually sits in the upper corner of the window, kind of hunched up), although yesterday late afternoon/evening, he was at the center of it so I was able to get this pic. Then at night he was busy making more webbing.



Images of this individual: tag all
What Type of Spider is this? - Araneus What Type of Spider is this? - Araneus

Thanks for your responses! How can you tell that it's a female spider? Also, it goes no where near my dog, but would it be poisonous to her? Also, will it try to come inside during the winter? Thanks again! You guys are great!!!

I like this spider, so I'll have to come up with a name for her. :)


a great education opportunity for kids. Charlotte (from the book) was a type of Orb Weaver. Watching them fix and repair a web is great fun. Kids don't have a fear of spiders. They learn it. I was taught to FEAR spiders by a nut case Aunt who visited often and SCREAMED when she saw a spider.... and RAN or had a fit. It has taken me many years to fight back the gut reaction fear of spiders, and I have done so by learning about them, and photographing them, see
for quite a few of my spider shots, including many "Orbies". I always name them when they show up, and I have been tracking one in my yard for over three weeks.

Gender Determination
If you look at the "front" of the spider, you'll see two little appendages near the face. These are known as pedipalps, which are used for sensing their environment, assisting with eating, and for males, reproduction; specifically sperm deposition.

If the pedipalps are swollen, resembling little boxing gloves, it is an adult male. If the pedipalps are not swollen, it is either a female or an immature spider of either gender (at which point, the size, knowing something about the possible genus, and possibly the visible markings (depending on the species), would be required to know if it is an adult female or juvenile.) The size and proportions of the spider (males are typically smaller than the females) can assist in determining the gender, but are not as reliable as looking at the pedipalps.

This characteristic is true for almost all spiders. The image to the left is a male, the image to the right is female. (These are a single genus of funnel-web spiders, but the priniciple still applies...) (click on the images to see a bigger version) :)

For many orb weavers (Araneus, Neoscona, and some other genera), if the abdomen is big and resembles a golf ball, it generally is a female. Here are some images of a male orb weaver to compare to your image (note the pedipalps):

Personally, I wouldn't recommend feeding your dog to her... hahaha :) But, if your dog is bitten, I believe she should be ok (just like a bee sting), but I am not sure since I have never heard of this happening, and it probably depends on the type and size of the dog. Orb weavers are timid, so your dog would really have to be "asking for it" to get bitten. (Orb weaver bites are almost always "deserved", and usually it takes quite a bit "to deserve" to be bitten).

Your spider won't be coming in for the winter. While some spiders would love to try do something like that, many orb weavers typically lay their eggs, and at the first frost, die. In the spring, a new generation of orb weavers will emerge.

Female Orb Weaver
This is a female Orb Weaver (family: Araneidae), probably of the Araneus or Neoscona genus. Update: With the posting of the dorsal view of the spider, this is an Araneus sp. spider (just as Terry suggested!).

(ID'ing beyond this level is often problematic, and requires an expert, the actual spider, and a microscope. The species determination is based off the differences in the reproductive structures). :)

However, regardless of the type of orb weaver, it is not dangerous to people, and is beneficial to your yard, as she will do her part to keep the insect population in check. She might bite if she feels threatened without a chance for escape. She is a very timid creature, and will flee at the first chance. (A bite from an orb weaver is often compared to a bee sting, both in symptoms and discomfort).

The behaviors you described are classic for many orb-weavers. Many are nocturnal, and prefer to start moving around at dusk/night, rebuilding their webs, and feeding on anything stuck in their web (or at least wrapping it in silk for a snack later on). She will eat during the day if something is unfortunate (?) enough to get snared in the web.

During the day, she often moves off the web, and will monitor the web via a trapline (which will vibrate if something gets ensnared in the web). Enjoy watching her, she's a fascinating find (a master architect with her web, and a voracious eater when "dinner flies or jumps in")!

Thanks for posting.

Orb Weaver
Hi Katie,

This is an orb weaver, most likely in the genus Araneus. New Mexico has many species of orb weavers, and identifying them without examining the genitalia under a microscope would be a challenge. All these spiders are timid, and reluctant biters, and have a venom that is quite mild, posing no threat to humans. They are also beneficial as they help control the populations of many insect species, including species that we consider pests or nusances. He, by the way, is a female, and if you have children, this is a great opportunity to have them learn more about spiders, and hopefully grow up with no irrational fears of them. Think of this as Charlotte.

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