Wild Fact #732 – The Gold Rush – Golden Orb Weaver

Photo by Victor Patel

I just realized I missed a very important date in history.  On August 22, 2010, Wild Facts celebrated its 1 year anniversary. I can’t believe it has been over a year already.  We have covered off quite a few animal species so far and I am just as excited as I was back then to continue on with the amazing feats of nature.  With that said, we are going to look at the Golden Orb Weaver today which is truly an incredible spider. I want to thank Kanjiruminamoto for the excellent suggestion. This particular spider is also known as a Giant Wood Spider or Banana Spider.

Their name, Golden Orb Weaver, does not come from the colour of the spider but instead the colour of their web.  That’s right spider fans, the Golden Orb Weaver will actually spin a gold web.  Now before you run out and try to collect these gold webs to send into “Dollars 4 Gold” you need to know that they aren’t real gold.  Actually, I think I would like to try this experiment to see if they will send you a cheque for your gold web. For the record, does anyone else see the flaw in packing up your gold into an envelope, sending it to a company that “promises” to send you back a cheque worth top dollar?

Golden Orb Weaver eating a bird

Although the gold colour of these webs are impressive I find the size far more interesting.  Believe it or not the Golden Orb Weaver is capable of making a spider web with the circular center section being more than 1 m (3′) across and can have supporting threads ranging much further. Some reports identified the webs being 6 m (18′) high by 2 m (6′) wide.  Basically, they make really big and really strong spider webs.  In fact these silk webs are so incredibly strong that they have been known to catch small birds.  Usually the spider won’t eat the birds but as you can see in the picture to the left, that isn’t always the case.  By the way is anyone else creeped out by that picture? Again, the strength of these webs allows the spider to keep them for several years.

You have to figure that if the webs are that big than the spider must be pretty big as well.  Typically the female version of the Golden Orb Weaver will be about 5 cm (2″) from toe to toe while the males are considerably smaller.  Again, there have been reports from Australia that some of these spiders grow as large as your hand and in some cases may get even larger. That would be one big spider, my friends.

Golden Orb Weaver Fast Fact – The silk created from the Golden Orb Weaver is almost as strong as Kevlar.  You know that stuff found in bullet-proof vests. Yeah, that strong! The poor bird didn’t stand a chance, heck even a gun would have been useless for the surprised bird.

Well that just about does it for me today.  I apologize to all of the people out there afraid of spiders. I  am sure the image of a spider eating a bird didn’t help with that phobia. Once you are finished your panic attack, I suggest watching the 2 minute video clip below. In the clip the Golden Orb Weaver is wrapping up a wasp in order to store it for later.  As one of the comments on YouTube pointed out, “Think of it as Tupperware for spiders”.

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