Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Upcoming Events

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa

Photos from the 2010 Workshop in Grinnell, Iowa

Photos from the 2009 gathering in Washington

Orb Weaver with 6 legs - Zygiella x-notata

Orb Weaver with 6 legs - Zygiella x-notata
San Pedro, Los Angeles County, California, USA
August 30, 2006
Size: 5.4 mm ignoring legs
I was about to go to bed, and was preparing to open the window to the side, when I spotted this spider on the sill. I froze and locked eyes with it, while planning my next move... to run upstairs and grab a cup and card to catch it. But before I could do anything, it dropped down by a thread, in the crack between my bed and the wall... I thought I'd lost it (or worse, that it was going to crawl over my sheet). But then it ascended back up the same thread!

It really seems to have been born with six legs... it walks quite naturally with them, and splays them symmetrically. From the bottom view, buds are evident in front of its "front" legs, but is it possible this could be a 6-legged species or mutant with vestigal front leg buds? If not, how could it have lost its two front legs so cleanly?

Given that this individual is immature (it is, right?), how specifically can it be identified? Should I raise it and find out, and if I were to do so, does anybody have recommendations on a space to put it in and how to care for it?

Images of this individual: tag all
Orb Weaver with 6 legs - Zygiella x-notata Orb Weaver with 6 legs - Zygiella x-notata Orb Weaver with 6 legs - Zygiella x-notata Orb Weaver with 6 legs - Zygiella x-notata

Moved from Zygiella. Based on known ranges I think this is our best guess.

Moved from Spiders.

Orb weaver.
This is indeed an orb weaver, possibly Zygiella x-notata. That species builds an orb web with a missing sector, and the spider stays in a retreat on the outskirts of the web. They can be very common around water, like large rivers.

Thanks Eric!
I think you nailed it. And I live next to the ocean.

Before you identified this spider for me, I was keeping her in a glass... in case I had in fact found a unique six-legged spider. While she was in there I caught a green-bottle fly and transferred it into the glass, and she later built an orb web just the right size to fit in the container (while the fly was buzzing around). The fly (which was bigger than her) promptly got caught in the web, and she fed on it... in two sittings.

Then I freed her on an agave plant, and it became evident to me that having just six legs does hamper her movement; she was trying to walk upside down but stumbled many times. I was hoping she'd build a web there so I could see if it had a missing sector. But after seeming to have given up walking upside-down, she kept being in the same place every time I checked back; however this morning she was gone and I did not see a new web on that plant.

(Am I correct in identifying the spider as female?)

Losing legs
Spiders will often autotomize a leg if that leg becomes trapped or pinched.

Sorry I can't offer an ID on this one.

Times two?
Thought I posted but aparently not?
I saw this same spider last weekend up in Ontario. Same configuration same look. I don't think it's a case of lost legs? The underside of the one I saw looked exact. Little stubs at the frone. Perhaps this is just an adaptation for this spider? Six legs better than eight? No problems walking around and spun a few webs in my car. Very odd to see a six legged spider.

How do you tell the difference between a cobweb spider and an orb weaver? I'm so confused, I know that an Orb weaver makes a traditional web and that a cobweb spider makes well cobwebs. HELP! Teach me the ways of the spider!

Comment viewing options
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click 'Save settings' to activate your changes.