Named after their orbicular- or spiracle-shaped webs, orb-weavers are awe-striking spiders that comprise many shapes, sizes and colors. The number of different species is somewhat controversial and is estimated between 4,000 to more than 10,000 worldwide. Orb-weavers can be black, white, gray, brown, yellow, red, pink, green and even blue.
Many species of orb-weavers create spiral webs using sticky silk to capture prey. At the end of each day they will devour their web and then afterwards spin a new one. When prey is caught in the web, the orb-weaver will quickly bite it and then wrap it in silk.
The orb-weaver’s breading season mostly occurs during cool autumn nights where the male will search for the web of a female and will begin plucking it in ritual form to signal her that he is not a trapped meal.
If the female doesn’t mistake him for a struggling insect, she will allow the male to cautiously approach, and mating eventually takes place. If successful, the female will leave her web so she may store her eggs in a safer location. She will wrap hundreds of eggs in a silken sack, where the offspring will remain and thrive throughout the winter. At some point during the winter, young orb-weaver spiders hatch, but remain inside their woven sack until spring. Their longevity is limited to one year because they cannot survive the cold winter conditions, but may live a little longer in tropical regions.
Addie T. Lindsay, 17, is an accomplished writer and a photographer of wildlife creatures big and small. She can be contacted at CritterChatter@live.com.