Book Review: Orb-Weaver Spiders by Joanne Randolph, in Nightmare Creatures: Spiders! Series Title #4

by DerdriuMarriner

Orb-Weaver Spiders is Nightmare Creatures: Spiders! series title #4. Joanne Randolph provides facts about orb-weaver spider bio-geography, life cycle, and natural history.

3,500 worldwide species, of which 180+ North America-based:

The orb-weaver family Araneidae accounts for one-fourth of all spider species. The common name borrows upon the arachnid in question's spinning ball-like, circular, round, spiral, or wheel-shaped webs. Orb-weaving spiders claim two main body parts:
• the front (head) has eight low-vision eyes, mouth, eight touch-sensitive legs for detecting vibrations and moving, and small limb-like pedipalps for mating; and
• the rear (abdomen) has non-sticky and sticky, stretchy, strong silk-producing spinnerets.

Scientists describe:
• Darwin's bark spiders as producing the world's largest spider webs and strongest silks with ten times a bulletproof vest's resistance; and
• Three-inch (eight-centimeter) black and yellow Argiope spiders as bat-catchers.
Madagascar's orb-weaving spiders emerge as the largest, with a mature length of 4.7 inches (12 centimeters).

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website: http://www.rosenpublishing.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=40

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General distribution of Orb-Weaver Spiders

Araneidae habitat distribution, drawn after Platnick: World Spider Catalog 7.0.
Araneidae habitat distribution, drawn after Platnick: World Spider Catalog 7.0.

Unthreatening to spider-eating animals, unwelcome to garden pests

 

Orb-weaving spiders feed upon:

  • bees;
  • beetles;
  • flies;
  • mosquitoes;
  • moths; and
  • wasps.

They get fed by:

  • biting;
  • immobilizing within silken wraps;
  • injecting chemicals to liquefy animal interiors; and
  • sipping in ways recalling arthropods removing plant sap (phloem and xylem).

They have to elude such predators as:

  • birds;
  • frogs;
  • insects (especially praying mantises);
  • monkeys; and
  • spiders.

The predator - prey food chain generally is conducive to orb-weaving spiders':

  • nocturnal life cycles; and
  • solitary natural histories, excepting the communal webs of the group-dwelling genus Metepeira and the mating cohabitations of furrow spiders.

Females join 100 to 1,400 eggs in each of one to three silken sacs. Scientists know that spiderlings hatch well after their mother's demise and with web-making skills.

 

spiderlings huddled together

Shields-Reid neighborhood, Richmond, western Contra Costa County, East Bay region, California
Shields-Reid neighborhood, Richmond, western Contra Costa County, East Bay region, California

Visibility in backyard, forest, and garden food webs

 

Preferences for herbaceous and woody foliage within extra-polar backyards, forests, and gardens in moist climates and survival amid desert succulents in dry climates let orb-weaving spiders occupy ecological niches as:

  • beneficial arachnids whose webs defend branches and stems from defoliation-minded pests and draw pollination-motivated insects to flowering plants;
  • environmental obligates and keystone species whose bite and venom harm crop-ravaging beetles and disease-carrying mosquitoes;
  • predators whose feeding patterns control arthropod levels; and
  • prey whose internal fluids and tissues sustain amphibian, arachnid, avian, and mammalian populations.

Orb-weaving spiders indeed manage food consumption and storage around set-points beyond which behaviors model catch and release, not hoard and hunt. They nudge out web-damaging butterflies once communal or individual needs are met. 

 

Yellow Spiked Orb Weaver spider (Gasteracantha falcicornis)

Mecúfi District, Cabo Delgado Province, northern Mozambique
Mecúfi District, Cabo Delgado Province, northern Mozambique

Wearability since 2014 as cultural enrichment, educational entertainment

 

The PowerKids Press-released Orb-Weaver Spiders occurs as The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. of New York's Nightmare Creatures: Spiders! Series #4. It proceeds:

  • after #1's Black Widow Spiders, #2's Crab Spiders, and #3's Jumping Spiders; and 
  • before #5's Tarantulas and #6's Wolf Spiders.

Third- to seventh-graders aged 8 to 12 years query orb-weaving spiders in 24 culturally enriching, educationally entertaining pages divided into 10 chapters, glossary and index thanks to: 

  • designer Andrew Povotny;
  • editors Norman D. Graubart, Jennifer Way;
  • photographers Peter Arnold, Paul Baggaley, Jan Beard, Paul Bertner, Phlippe Blanchot, Brandon Blinken berg, Anders Blomqvist, Jason Edwards, Richard Fellinger, Henrik Larsson, Michael Lustbader, Laszlo Podor, Ron Rowan, Charles O. Slavens, Pan Xunbin;
  • researcher Katie Stryker;
  • writer Joanne Randolph.

 

Macro of Orchard Orb Weaver (Leucauge venusta): in real life, the spider equates to the size of a fly.

Upper Marlboro, Prince George's County, southern Maryland
Upper Marlboro, Prince George's County, southern Maryland

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Silver Argiope spider (Argiope argentata) immature female on stabilimentum (web decoration)

Function of orb-weaver spiders' stabilimentum is unknown but is hypothesized to attract prey and to minimize web damage.
Function of orb-weaver spiders' stabilimentum is unknown but is hypothesized to attract prey and to minimize web damage.

Sources Consulted

 

Randolph, Joanne. 2014. Orb-Weaver Spiders. PowerKids Press: Nightmare Creatures: Spiders! Series Title #4. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. 

 

female Argiope aurantia with typical zigzag web: commonly known as yellow garden spider, black and yellow garden spider, golden garden spider, writing spider, or corn spider.

Argiope aurantia spiders are found spinning their orb webs in southern Canada, U.S.'s Lower 48, Hawaii, Mexico, and Central America.
south central Mississippi
south central Mississippi
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Orb-Weaver Spiders by Joanne Randolph

Nightmare Creatures: Spiders!
Orb-Weaver Spiders

Orb-Weaving Spider's web on a sycamore tree branch: poster available via AllPosters

photo by Raymond Gehman
A Orb-Weaving Spider's Web on a Sycamore Tree Branch

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 03/11/2015, DerdriuMarriner
 
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