Q: I have attached a photo of a spider. Can you identify it for me?
A: What a beauty! Thanks for sending me the photo. This spider was easy to identify as he is one of the more colorful spiders in Florida. He is the spinybacked orbweaver, Gasteracantha cancriformis (Linnaeus) 1767. He is commonly referred to as a crab spider but I believe spinybacked orbweaver fits much better as each of the spiders has six protrusions or spines from its abdominal area. Remember that spiders are not insects because they have only 2 body parts (insects have 3) and they have 8 legs (insects have 6). The male spinybacked orbweaver are commonly seen in October and November or hanging from the females web during mating season. Females, which are found as adults throughout the year, are most common from October through January.
Spinybacked orbweaves make their homes in forest areas with well-drained, acidic soil supporting a large diversity of hardwood trees and citrus groves. Ovate egg sacs are deposited on the undersides of leaves adjacent to the female’s web from October through January. Eggs take 11 to 13 days to hatch.
The bite of this common species is not known to cause serious effects to humans. Since these spiders prey on whiteflies, flies, moths, and beetles that are caught in their webs, we consider them beneficial. For more information on common Florida spiders check out the following University of Florida publication: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IN017