Araneus Gemmoides – Cat-Faced Spider or Jewel Spider

The Araneus Gemmoides is an orb weaver species that occurs in the Western United States. It is also known under the common names cat-faced spider or jewel spider.

Both common names reflect the special traits of the body of Araneus gemmoides. The abdomen is large and if seen from the front, cat-faced. Others consider the shape of the spider’s body diamond- or jewel-shaped. Hence, its other common name. The spider comes in various colors ranging from almost completely white to bright orange and dark brown.

Araneus Gemmoides seen in Montana
This cat-faced spider was photographed by Jaimie in Montana.

Size of the Cat-Faced Spider

The Araneus gemmoides spider usually grows between 0.2 and 1 inch long (5-25 mm). It has comparably short legs and a large-sized abdomen.

Araneus Gemmoides Bite

The fact Araneus Gemmoides are Orb Weavers means they are not dangerous to humans. They are nearly as harmless as it gets with spiders and extremely timid spiders and will always try to get away rather than fight. Cat-faced orb weavers are clumsy moving outside their webs, and even if they do bite, their venom will do nothing more than cause a small blemish that will fade. At their worst, they may cause a slight welt.

White grey Cat-faced spider orb weaver in Vermont
A white/grey cat-faced orb weaver photographed by Matt in Warren, Vermont

Scientific Classification

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

Distribution of the cat-faced spider in the USA

Araneus Gemmoides – Cat-Faced Spider or Jewel Spider range map

The cat-faced spider can be found in the following states in the Western USA: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Cat-faced orb weaver spider
Photography by: Patty Weigand – Glorieta, New Mexico
Araneus Gemmoides – Cat-Faced Spider or Jewel Spider

10 thoughts on “Araneus Gemmoides – Cat-Faced Spider or Jewel Spider

  1. This is in Helena Montana. This spider makes its home under the eaves, spinning a flat, radial web. I found her after dark (9pm) sitting on her web washing her face. By the time I got a picture of her, she had retreated under the eave. Her head, legs, and thorax are a translucent brown, and she has a very thin waist, attaching to a bulbous, cream-colored abdomen with no visible markings.The abdomen is almost cube-shaped, with two minute protrusions on either topside resembling horns. She seems very docile.

  2. Hello Heather,
    Thank you for your ID request. The spider you found is most certainly a cat-faced orb weaver (or jewel spider because of the cube-shaped abdomen). It is not a medically significant spider and great to have around for pest control.

  3. I found this spider in the Minneapolis suburbs. It was creating a nesting area near an outside light on my house where many small bugs gather. I thought that it looked like a few different species. I specifically noted that it may be the Lichen Orb Weaver, given the brown / black legs, and olive back but it seems too small for that. It was maybe the size of a quarter. Sadly I could not get a picture of it’s backside without disturbing it.

    1. Hi Aaron, thanks for uploading this shot! It’s definitely an orb weaver – identifying the species with a shot from the underside is tough 🙂 I agree with you, that it is probably in the species Araneus, but I don’t think it’s a giant lichen orb weaver. The short abdomen makes me think of the cat-faced orb weaver (Araneus gemmoides):
      But I am not certain of that.

  4. Can you tell me what type of spider this is he was outside on the side at the top of our porch in the northern panhandle of Idaho he was hanging from his web and then crawled back up it’s quite big probably a little biggeer then a 50 cent piece but my mom wants to know if its poisonous so if you could let me know i would greatly appreciate it
    thank you

  5. Hello Chelcie, thanks for getting in touch! This is definitely an orb weaver spider and not medically significant. Your ID is most likely spot on, this looks like a male cat-faced orb weaver (Araneus diadematus). Idaho is actually one of the few U.S. States without any larger known populations of medically significant spiders.

  6. Found this little guy outside my house here in Cody, Wyoming. Couldn’t find any pictures that quite matched. Almost looks like an orb weaver or an arrowhead spider by the triangular hindquarters. However, it’s legs look thicker than the pictures I’ve seen of those spiders. Just curious what it could be. Thanks for your help!

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