An orchard orbweaver - Leucauge venusta - spider hanging upside down below center of circular web with morning sun shining on the web creating various colors. Photographed along the trail at Longleaf Pine Preserve in Volusia County, Florida.
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One of Florida's smaller orbweavers of woodland edges and shrubby meadows, these spiders are often seen hanging below the center of their webs just off to the side of trails. The range extends throughout much of the eastern United States, north into Ontario, west into Nebraska and Texas and south to Panama.
Like other orbweavers, Leucauge venusta spins a circular web. While many of the other orbweavers position their webs vertically, the orchard orbveaver places them horizontal, or slightly slanted and up to 1.5 m (5 ft.) above the ground. The webs are typically 30 cm (1 ft.) in diameter with an average of 30 spokes and 60 spirals.
The spiders are small with relatively large abdomens with a metallic sheen. The color is pearly white or silvery with distinctive black lines and also red and yellow markings. The red bowtie shaped mark on the abdomen cause many to mistake these for black widows, which do not spin webs like these nor are likely to be out during the day. Females have bodies from 5.5-7.5mm (~2/10-3/10 in.) long, the smaller males are 3.5-4mm (~1/8 in.) long.
(Subject description from the artist's Wild Florida Photo website www.wildflphoto.com)
November 30th, 2013
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