In my last post I mentioned the orchard orb-weaver spider that had taken up residence on our back porch tomato cage, hanging upside down in the center of her horizontal web. See…
The orchard orbweaver’s scientific name is, appropriately, Leucauge venusta. The Latin venusta means charm or beauty, and this is a fascinatingly beautiful spider. Her abdomen is elongated and silvery-white, with parallel black stripes and orange spots on the sides. Her thorax is bright green and yellow, and her legs are green to black. One of my favorite features are the rows of curved hairs that stick out from the femurs on her fourth pair of legs. Such beauty! The photo below is taken from below, looking up at her hanging from her web, so you can see how she curls her legs around the silk to hang on upside down.
Orchard orb-weavers are common spiders in the eastern to central United States. I remember admiring them often in Florida and never seeing one in Oregon, so it was a delight to have one show up here on our porch in North Carolina. If you only saw the bottom of this spider, a quick glance might make you think “black widow”, due to the orange bow-shaped spot on the underside of the abdomen.
But, fear not. The body shape is longer and a second glance at those beautiful green and silver and yellow colors on top will reassure you that a black-widow she is NOT! Orchard spiders are small – about 7 mm – but build a web about a foot to 18 inches across. They prefer open, light areas which is why she chose our porch, I suppose. Their webs are almost always horizontal or slanted and almost never vertical like many other orb-weavers.
After several days of getting her web accidentally yanked off the tomato cage (sorry, girl, we just didn’t notice those silver strands!), she moved to the other side of the porch, then, finally dismantled her entire web and left us, I assume to find a less busy place to build a web.
So, in my continued pursuit of cultivating a grateful heart, I thank the orchard spider for the gift of her presence, and hope you find a beautiful gift like her on your porch, too!