Neoscona Arabesca – Arabesque Orb Weaver

Neoscona arabesca, commonly known as the arabesque orbweaver, is one of the most common orbweaver species that can be found throughout the United States as well as in Europe. Its name does not have anything to do with the Arab world but refers to the swirling markings on the large abdomen of the spider.

Description of the arabesque orb weaver

The main characteristic to tell the arabesque orbweaver from other orb weaver spiders are the intrinsic markings on its abdomen. After shedding their skin, the markings are clearest and it is generally relatively easy to identify them. However, as time progresses, the beautiful markings slowly fade and they are sometimes confused with other orb weavers such as the spotted orb weaver or the furrow orb weaver.

female arabesque orb weaver colorful
A beautiful female arabesque orb weaver with clear markings on its abdomen. Photo: Ryan Hodnett

The body of arabesque orb weavers are covered with small hair – a great way to tell them from Araneus orb weavers who have a smooth, hairless abdomen. The body color itself varies greatly between specimen. They can be a pale grey with beige/brown markings, various brown tones, orange or even red. The legs have alterning light and dark stripes.

Size

Compared to other orb weavers, arabesque orb weavers are relatively small. The body of a female adult grows to 0.2-0.3 inches (5-7 mm) while the male is slightly smaller. Males and females can be distinguished by the different size of the abdomen. While females have a small cephalothorax (the front part of the body) and a large abdomen, the abdomen and cephalothorax of the male is almost the same size.

arabesque orb weaver red
A female Neoscona arabesca found in Virginia. Photo: Judy Gallagher

Web

Like other orb weavers, Neoscona arabesca uses a web to catch flying insects. The web is vertical and up to 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter. While the female spends most of its time on the web, the male often roams around on the ground in search for small insects.

Bite

As is true for all orb weaver spiders, arabesque orbweavers a not aggressive. In the rare cases a bite does occur, the symptoms are generally mild. The initial sting may hurt similar to a bee sting but pther than that, it doesn’t have any severe or long-term effects.

Neoscona arabesca orbweaver yellow brown
Beautiful markings on the abdomen of this arabesque orb weaver seen in Virginia by Judy Gallagher.

Neoscona arabesca scientific classification

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

Distribution of arabesque orbweavers in the USA

The arabesque orbweaver is native in every US state – 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

Neoscona Arabesca – Arabesque Orb Weaver

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