The year’s mild winter and frequent rain showers have created lush lawns and gardens with an abundance of insects. As a result, we are seeing many predator arthropods taking advantage of the available feast. One of the morning interesting creatures in the garden is the spiny orb weaver spider (Gasteracantha cancriformis) that has an interesting body shape.
Spiny orb weavers are common spiders in landscapes that might not be noticed since they are much smaller than the Yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) and the Golden silk spider (Nephila clavipes). Once viewed, the spiny orb weaver will catch your attention because it’s abdomen has six ‘spines’ or points that extend out. Spiders also have a mix of yellow, white, red, or black marking on the abdomen.
Although spiders are small, the webs which are common amongst shrubs, trees, and edges of woods become quite substantial in the fall. There may be up to 30 spirals that extend out with the spider situated in the center. You may unexpectedly encounter a web when walking through the garden or mowing around trees and shrubs. There is no worry if a spider accidently gets on you as bites are not common and not considered serious.
Some may refer to the spiny orb weaver as a crab spider based on its shape, but it is a web building where the true crab spiders are active hunters often found resting on flowers in order to ambush a meal.
Enjoy our fall weather and look out for this beneficial spider in your landscape.