Golden Silk Spider (Nephila clavipes)

Pricing: Dead (spread, as pictured): $40-$60, depending on size and quality.
Geographic Range: New World Tropics
View: Top View  Sex: Female
Size: Body length of female: 2.5 cm

Image Copyright 2003
Barbara Strnadova

Nephila clavipes is the largest orb-weaving spider in the New World, found as far north as Florida. Their webs can be 60 cm in diameter and are made with a distinctive, golden silk. This strong silk was formerly used in the manufacture of gun sights. Though typically found in forest clearings, these spiders will utilize whatever supporting structures are handy. In Central and South America, aggregations of hundreds of individuals can be found on electric lines, radio towers and bridges. They are not dangerous to humans and can be considered somewhat cowardly. They do not wrap their prey in silk as a means of subduing it and must instead get in close and administer a fatal bite. To avoid danger to themselves, they general attack only those insects which cannot inflict damage. Males are one-tenth the size of the females and can be found hanging around the webs of the much larger females. The males feed off of prey captured by the females. They are often joined by other species of insects that either steal food or gain protection by hanging around the giant webs. N. maculata is called the Banana Spider because of the shape of it's abdomen.