Araneus Bicentenarius – Giant Lichen Orb Weaver

While the giant lichen orb weaver may not be the largest orb weaver in terms of diameter, thanks to its massive abdomen, it is one of the heaviest orb weaver spiders. Like most other orb weavers, Araneus bicentenarius is a nocturnal spider and spins large webs.

Quick Overview: Araneus bicentenarius – Giant Lichen Orb Weaver
Medically significant: No
Maximum body size: 1 inch (2.4 cm)
Main colors: gray, orange, black, greenish, white
Range: Eastern and Central United States and Canada
Web: Large orb-shaped web – up to 8 feet (2.5 meters) in diameter

Giant lichen orb weaver description

Most commonly, the legs of the giant lichen orb weaver are orange colored with black rings. The body is usually a grayish green with dark and white markings on it. Sometimes, the colors may also be close to yellow or a very gray green.

Araneus bicentenarius giant lichen orb weaver
A giant lichen orb weaver found by Linda in Lexington, Texas

Thanks to its intricate markings on the back of the abdomen, the giant lichen orb weaver is often confused with the European garden spider (Araneus diadematus) which also occurs in the U.S. If you can get a close look, you can distinguish the two because the giant lichen orb weaver doesn’t have cross-shaped markings on its back.

Size

Giant lichen orb weavers reach a size of around one inch (2.4 cm).

Web

The giant orb weaver spins huge webs of a size up to 8 feet in diameter. Unlike most other orb weavers, Araneus bicentenarius usually spends most of its time on the edges of the web, not in the center. To stay safe from bird predators, orb weaver are mostly active at night and hide throughout the day.

Araneus bicentenaruis seen by Arlene in Vermont

Bite

For humans, the bite of a giant lichen orb weaver is generally not dangerous. At worst, you may experience symptoms comparable to a bee sting. Since the species is active at night, bites rarely occur.

Araneus bicentenarius scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Infraorder: Araneomorphae
  • Family: Aranidae
  • Genus: Araneus
  • Species: Araneus bicentenarius

Distribution of the giant lichen orb weaver in the USA

Araneus Bicentenarius – Giant Lichen Orb Weaver range

The giant lichen orb weaver is most commonly found in the Eastern States and in the Mid-Western States of the U.S. Hence, Araneus bicentenarius occurs in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Araneus Bicentenarius – Giant Lichen Orb Weaver

20 thoughts on “Araneus Bicentenarius – Giant Lichen Orb Weaver

  1. Does this spider do a angry dance when you get too close to its web? My husband and I took a picture of it and afterwards the spider seemed to “dance” to try intimidate us.

    1. Yes, that might happen. Often, orb weavers start “jumping” on their webs to make it move and give the impression of a large threat to whatever is approaching them.

  2. We just had to kill one of these with poisonous insect spray because it built a giant web in our outdoor door frame (we have small children). When we sprayed it it started to do what looked like a weird dance where he put his bottom up in the air and then did like a michael jackson toe stand. We are in Birmingham, Alabama and see these spiders quite frequently.

    1. Hi Julie, these spiders are not dangerous for pets or children. Next time, you could just use a glass jar or a stick to remove it from the area where it is not supposed to be.

    1. Generally, orb-weavers die in winter. They spend the last weeks of autumn to lay eggs and lose a lot of energy during this time. Once the colder tempertures hit, adults will mostly not make it. The next generation overwinters outside in their egg sacs and will hatch during spring and be ready to reproduct next autumn.

  3. We had a lovely female last summer who built a web from a low hanging branch all the way to the ground! I first came across her as I was mowing the lawn. It was just before sunset, so I very nearly walked straight into her web. I am grateful that I didn’t, as I am still a bit squeamish around large spiders and would feel bad ruining all of her hard work. I like admiring spiders from a distance though, and enjoyed checking on her each night (and sometimes during the day to see her tucked away in her leaf shelter) until the season came to an end. I hope that she was successful in reproducing. You can see her here: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/57362605

  4. Thank you for the great information on giant lichen orb weavers. Now I know who the beautiful spider is who is hanging around outside my back door. She looks to be full grown as she is definitely an inch across!

    1. Hi Bruce, thanks for getting in touch and for uploading this great shot of a giant lichen orb weaver!

  5. Giant Lichen Orb weaver? I have found this at the Fontana Dam in North Carolina. Its web was attached to the ceiling and adjacent wall of a restroom. It had two butterflies twisted up in its web. One was clearly sucked clean of body fluids, and the other was still moving. It was during the afternoon and seemed to be active. It looked to have two humps on abdomen close to head, about an inch in diameter. This was right close to the Appalachian Trail with huge amounts of lichen on the trees.

  6. This was taken in Hot Springs, AR. The web is a t least 6 ft from tree to ground and the spider is the biggest orb weaver i’ve ever seen! So cool to find in my yard.

  7. We found one of these leaving under the eave of the house. We have been observing it for a few weeks and today I took some photos.

  8. This big fellow ( green lichen orb weaver) built his giant web on my back porch. I’ve watched him for a couple of weeks. A few days ago he had a buddy show up who also built a web on the porch. I need to move them so I can use my porch but I’ve been too skittish to try!!

  9. Spotted in Maine at Acadia National Park on the SE side of Mt Desert Island. Actually heard it rustling the leaves outside of my tent and I came outside to investigate, lol.

  10. We have a large female that’s cast quite an impressive web in some trees next to the house. Do these spiders commonly prey on Hummingbirds? We’ve got nearly a dozen Ruby-Throats that frequent the feeders at the house and I’d hate to feel I’ve created an unfair situation luring the birds in.

  11. I found this beautiful spider is my screen house. I was luckily able to stop my bf from killing it. I personally love spiders and we live in the woods so we see A LOT of them, but this one was a first.

  12. I have two of these webbing right outside my back door. It was quite easy to catch with a stick and put it in the jar. I have to say it is quite intimidating looking.

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