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Banana spider

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Banana spider
Banana Spider 1.jpg
Scientific Classification
Species

many more

The Banana Spider (or Golden Silk Orb-Weaver) is the common name for a number of species of beautifully colored silk spider that were assigned the taxonomic genus name Nephila. They have legs that are long and hairy and the female is much bigger than the male. They can form webs that can get as big as three feet wide. They are also known to surround several hundred eggs in an egg sac of 2.5 to 3 cm in diameter is a basket of curly yellow silk. It is from this behavior that they get their name Golden Silk Orb-Weaver. They eat flying bugs, including flies, bees, wasps, small moths, and butterflies.

Anatomy

They are called Banana Spiders because of their yellow bodies, but their technical name is the Golden Silk Orb-Weaver. Their webs are very strong and can withstand a lot of pressure. They look like gold in the sunshine; that’s why they are called Golden Silk Orb-Weavers. Their legs are long and hairy and the female is much bigger than the male. The male is about a half inch long, but the female can get up to three inches. The webs they form are built up to three feet wide. They usually live in the US, especially Florida. They rarely bite people, because some people have allergic reactions to spider bites; at least it won't kill you.[1]

Reproduction

Golden Silk Orb-Weavers go through several molting processes. When a male Golden Silk Orb-Weavers reaches maturity, they accompany the females on their webs. About five cm above the female sits the male, who is protecting her.

About four days before a female hits the final molt, she stops all web repairs and catching of bugs. Female Golden Silk Orb-Weavers are sexually open for forty-eight hours after her final molt. In order for reproduction to occur, the males must stimulate the female and "excite" them so that he does not become her dinner; although, the eating of males in this species is not common. When the male is ready for reproduction, he will vibrate his abdomen and use a plugging motion. This action depends on the age of the female. After the sperm is transferred, it is stored in what is called the spermathecae. Now that copulation has occurred, females tend to change web locations and males throughout their adulthood life. [2]

Surrounded by a basket of curly yellow silk is at least two large egg sacs, 2.5 to 3 cm in diameter, which contain several hundred eggs. If the spider lives in the tropical parts, she will probably produce more egg sacs. [3]

Ecology

Banana Spider eating its prey

This diet of a Golden Silk Orb-Weaver is made up of a wide variety of small to medium-sized flying bugs, including flies, bees, wasps, and small moths and butterflies. [4]

The Golden Silk Orb-Weaver, like most spiders, do not chew their food. Once their prey is caught in their web, they inject venom. The venom either paralyzes or kills the prey then turns its insides into liquid. While the female spider waits for the venom to do its job, she wraps up the bug in silk so that she can drink the liquid, or tie the wrapped up bug to her web for snacking on later.

Frogs, toads, lizards, birds, shrews, beetles, ants, centipedes, and bigger spiders are all predators of the Golden Silk Orb-Weaver. People, storms, cold weather, and fungus are also threats to a Golden Silk Orb-Weaver, because they can either freeze the spider, kill it, or ruin its web/source of food; therefore, killing the spider. [5]

The Golden Silk Orb-Weaver, in North America, has one generation per year under certain conditions. Adult males live around in July to September with most females maturing in the month of August. Once it get late into fall, mature females start showing up. [6]

One problem the the Golden Silk Orb-Weaver has to face in tropical and subtropical climates, is overheating. Special features in the bodies of the Golden Silk Orb-Weaver have been put in the to prevent this problem. The silvery carapace reflects sunlight, while the long, cylindrical body is pointed directly at the sun, which reduces the overall amount of exposed body. The Golden Silk Orb-Weaver can forcefully cool by producing a drop of fluid with the chelicerae. The responses of this cooling technique usually results at about 35°C. [7]

Silk Webs

All spiders that weave webs use silk. Their silk is individually made in their own bodies. By jumping from tree branch to tree branch, they are able to form a web. With every spider comes a different web. Some strands on silk webs are dry, but others are sticky and moist so that she can catch bugs. In order for the female spider not to get stuck, she walks on the dry, silk strands. She waits in the center of her web with one leg touching a strand so that if she feels the strand jiggle, she will go to where the bug is caught. If it's just a leaf or a very huge bug that could ruin the web she cuts the strand causing it to fall out. Because of the lost parts of her web, she eats the broken strands and digests them so that she can rebuild her web. She wastes nothing. (Some native people twist the webs to make fishing nets, since certain webs are very strong.)[8]

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