Acanthepeira stellata, commonly called the starbellied orb weaver, is one of the most remarkable and memorable orb weaver spiders. Its abdomen is adorned with several spikes that stand out in all directions. The starbellied spider can be found throughout the United States as well as in Southern Canada and Mexico. Most sightings occur along the Eastern and Western coastal areas.
Starbellied orb weaver description
The body of the starbellied spider is mostly orange or brownish, sometimes also a brownish-grey. The abdomen of this orb weaver is adorned with several spikes that give the abdomen a crown-like or star-like shape. The unique shape makes this species very distingushable from other orb weavers or other spider species.
The female starbellied orb weaver reaches a body size of up to 0.6 inches (15 mm) while the male is around 30% smaller. The female has a much larger abdomen compared to its body size than the male.
Their web is the main source of food for starbellied orb weavers. They spin vertical webs a few feet off the ground with a diameter of up to 1 foot (30cm). The starbellied orb weaver sits patiently in the center of the web waiting for small flying insects to hit the web. Once that happens, the spider immediately feels the vibrations and rushes to its prey to finish it off with a bite. If it feels threatened, it drops from the web with its feet retracted towards its body. Once it hits the ground, it continues to feign death until the danger passes.
The starbellied orbweaver is not dangerous for humans or larger pets. Its venom is not strong enough to cause any serious discomfort unless a strong allergic reaction occurs. Generally, the bite is considered less severe than a bee sting. Since the starbellied orbweaver has the natural reflex to simulate death and not move if a threat approaches and is active at nighttime, humans are hardly ever bitten by it.
Acanthepeira stellata scientific classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Chelicerata
- Class: Arachnida
- Order: Araneae
- Infraorder: Araneomorphae
- Family: Aranidae
- Genus: Acanthepeira
- Species: Acanthepeira stellata
Distribution of the starbellied orb weaver in the USA
The star-bellied orbweaver can be found in all U.S. States. It is most often seen in the coastal states along the Atlantic Ocean and along the Pacific Ocean. Namely, it can be found in these states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming