Missing Golden Orb Weaver (Nephila)

dragonblade71

Arachnobaron
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For the last several days, a female Golden Orb Weaver has set herself up in a web right outside my bedroom window. She's the tiniest Nephila Ive seen but she's a beautiful looking specimen (her mostly white abdomen has a silvery sheen to it.) I was planning to photograph her with off-camera flash - firing a speedlight from the side and holding a piece of white card on the other side as a reflector. The background (the curtains in my bedroom window) are pretty distracting so I was going to cover those up with black paper.

Unfortunately, this morning, I discovered that the GOW is missing from her web. No sign of her at all. I hope a bird hasn't taken her. There are quite a few birds around here and I saw a bird attack a huntsman over two weeks ago (also right outside a window but on a higher level on the house.) I don't suppose Golden Orb Weavers go into hiding in some circumstances? I'm just trying to be hopefull that she's still around somewhere. She molted a few days ago but didn't hide on that occasion.

I was so looking forward to photographing her. I'm currently based on Kangaroo Island in South Australia and Golden Orb Weavers are not a common sight over here.
 

Ungoliant

Malleus Aranearum
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For the last several days, a female Golden Orb Weaver has set herself up in a web right outside my bedroom window. She's the tiniest Nephila Ive seen but she's a beautiful looking specimen (her mostly white abdomen has a silvery sheen to it.) . . . I don't suppose Golden Orb Weavers go into hiding in some circumstances?
In my experience, Nephila clavipes slings tend not to stay in one place for long. Larger juveniles and adults are more stable (assuming it's a good location), though if you see an orb with little or no barrier webbing, that is usually a temporary web. (You don't have Nephila clavipes in Australia, but I'm assuming the behavior is similar for other species.)


I hope a bird hasn't taken her.
If the web is there, and the spider is gone, that is not a good sign.

When they are small, they are vulnerable to parasitic wasps. My husband saw a wasp pluck a sling right out of her web and carry it off. The web sustained little damage.
 

dragonblade71

Arachnobaron
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If the web is there, and the spider is gone, that is not a good sign.
Uh oh.

When they are small, they are vulnerable to parasitic wasps. My husband saw a wasp pluck a sling right out of her web and carry it off. The web sustained little damage.
When I mentioned that this particular Golden Orb Weaver was tiny, that was a bit of an exaggeration. It's probably the smallest GOW Ive seen but quite a decent size compared to most other true spiders (actually a bit larger than most other spiders around here.) In terms of leg span, I'd say that it was a fraction smaller than a huntsman. Though of course much smaller than the huge Golden Orb Weavers found on the mainland. It's probably quite young but not really a sling.
 

The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
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Two probabilities. Got eaten or went for a walk. If wasps are common in your area I side with #1.

FYI the heftiest Neph made is small change compared to the larger Ts and a 1 inch T Hawk can drag those off like they were part tow truck. IE prey size means little with wasps.
 

Ungoliant

Malleus Aranearum
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FYI the heftiest Neph made is small change compared to the larger Ts and a 1 inch T Hawk can drag those off like they were part tow truck. IE prey size means little with wasps.
True, but there are smaller wasps that take smaller prey. We don't have tarantula hawks here, but we have other species of predatory wasp. (I found a fat Argiope aurantia with a lethal sting wound to the abdomen. Apparently the spider was too heavy, or the ground-covering vegetation was too hindering, because the wasp gave up and left her on the ground.)
 

dragonblade71

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Yea the web is still there and looks pretty complete / undisturbed. And yes, Ive seen wasps go after huntsmans and wolf spiders elsewhere on the island. Though I don't think Ive ever seen a wasp in this part of the island (where the Golden Orb Weaver was.) Though of course that doesn't necessarily rule out that they aren't here.

Really annoyed that I didn't photograph her earlier. I did photograph a leaf curling spider nearby yesterday afternoon though I could have left that one for later. Ive only seen a total of three Golden Orb Weavers here on the island and none of them were particularly large. The ones on the mainland are so much bigger. I wonder if it's a smaller sub-species that lives here.
 

The Snark

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True, but there are smaller wasps that take smaller prey. We don't have tarantula hawks here, but we have other species of predatory wasp. (I found a fat Argiope aurantia with a lethal sting wound to the abdomen. Apparently the spider was too heavy, or the ground-covering vegetation was too hindering, because the wasp gave up and left her on the ground.)
I've watched that happen and think it happens a lot. It's not like wasps pack measuring tapes and scales. Saw a smallish wasp, maybe 1/2 body, circling a pretty massive Huntsman a few days ago. No way it could have carted it off. Once watched a smallish T Hawk struggling to drag away a medium sized T across the parking lot up in Owens Valley. It made maybe 3 feet of progress the entire evening. Found the T abandoned a few feet away the next morning.
 

dragonblade71

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I did see an unusual sight many years ago at the Coorong in mainland South Australia. A wasp was dragging a large huntsman uphill (up a sandhill) The wasp would make some progress but would then roll down the sandhill with the huntsman. This kept happening again and again repeatedly.

Actually, thinking about the missing Golden Orb Weaver again....if a wasp did snatch it from it's web, it would have had to fly off with it. Would a wasp have the strength to fly while carrying a Nephila sp that was roughly the size of a huntsman? I note that when wasps carry spiders they've stung, they generally drag them along the ground rather than fly with them (not surprisingly.) I guess a bird grabbing the Orb Weaver is another possibility but there were outer strands of silk surrounding the spider (sort of like an enclosure) and these haven't been disturbed.
 

Ungoliant

Malleus Aranearum
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Would a wasp have the strength to fly while carrying a Nephila sp that was roughly the size of a huntsman? I note that when wasps carry spiders they've stung, they generally drag them along the ground rather than fly with them (not surprisingly.) I guess a bird grabbing the Orb Weaver is another possibility but there were outer strands of silk surrounding the spider (sort of like an enclosure) and these haven't been disturbed.
It would depend on the size of the wasp, but it would probably have to drag something as big as an adult huntsman.

I would expect there to be more damage to the web from a bird attack.
 

dragonblade71

Arachnobaron
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True - it would depend on the size of the wasp. And although this particular GOW was similar in size to a huntsman, I doubt it would have been as heavy as a huntsman. And the only way to retrieve it from the web would have been to fly away with it. Still, Ive never seen a wasp of any size around here.
 

Nephila Edulis

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I've seen videos of microbats snatching spiders from webs with their feet. Although many microbats are smaller than huntsmans
 

ChickenTaco

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Dont know if anyones checking this post still but...I once watched a hummingbird snatch a huge orb weaver spider perfectly off a web, no signs of what had happend but a single tiny tear in the middle of the web (where the spider was) carried it off like it was nothing! The spider was a third it's size! Just goes to show the most unassuming can be the most fierce!
 
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