Friday, March 11, 2011

Crab-like Spiny Orb Weaver

The Crab-like Spiny Orb Weaver is certainly a small creature that deserves to have its common name capitalized.  We encountered this spider in the Key West Botanical Garden.  The species is found along woodland edges and citrus groves from the southern United States south through the Caribbean and South America.

Breeding males approach a female's web and tap out a four-beat "tune" on her web.  The female ties him down, and a lengthy copulation ensues. I assume the male survives this welcome.  Females are short lived, dying after laying egg masses in the spring.

As you can see, this spider leaves prey remains in its web.  The Crab-like Spiny Orb Weaver is not considered to be hazardous to humans. Indeed, this spider is welcomed by citrus growers, as the arachnid consumes fruit flies, as well as white flies, mosquitoes, moths, beetles, and other small flying insects.

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