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
5 thoughts on “Acanthepeira Stellata – Starbellied Orb Weaver”
Nice photos on your site. Good camera work! I could use a hand on ID here. Not sure (as I am not a spider guy) of which species this is. Perhaps Spined Micrathena gracilis or Acanthepeira stellata? Photos from 9/13/21 at McGee Marsh on southern shore of Lake Erie, Ohio. Thanks much!!
PS: Sorry only seem to be able to attach one photo, not two of this strange spider.
I was wondering what this scary creature was & is it poisonous in blfd WV
Hi Michele, thanks for getting in touch! This is definitely not one of the medically significant spiders found in the U.S. I can’t say for certain what type of spider this is.
Sorry not the best photo. It was in area of awning that I was having hard time getting too. Nor did I really want to. Had cross type shape on his back. As you can see, he’s HUGE
Hi. Can u help me identify this spider. Sw Michigan.