Trichonephila Clavipes – Banana Spider

Trichonephila clavipes, commonly called banana spider or golden-silk orb weaver is a unique orb weaver species due to its shape and color. The spider is used to warm climate and originally native to Central America and some Caribbean islands. However, it can also be found in the Southern States of the U.S. During the warm summer months, some specimens can occasionally be found in the Northern States of the U.S.

Golden-Silk orb weaver description

The abdomen of Trichonephila Clavipes is oblong-shaped and mostly yellow. Its shape and color also explain one of its common names: banana spider. The cephalothorax is small and grayish/white with several black dots. It often looks a bit like a skull. The golden silk spider has long and straight black and yellow legs. The four front as well as two back legs have two hairy black bands called gaiters, while the rest of the body is smooth.

The abdomen is mostly yellow with white and orange markings and dots. With increasing age, the abdomen of the female spider is getting darker and older specimens can be almost completely black. Even though the golden spider has a quite unique appearance it is sometimes confused with the banded garden spider, another orb weaver species.

A beautiful female golden silk orb weaver spider seen in Louisiana. Photo: Jim

Size

The larger female banana spider reaches a size of 1 inch to 2 inches (25-50 mm). It is therefore one of the largest orb weaver spiders and one of the largest spiders in North America. Males are much smaller than females and are only around 0.2 inches (6 mm) long. Therefore, it is often hard to even spot a male.

Web

Like other orb weavers, the golden-silk orb weaver creates huge webs of up to 6 feet (2 meters) in diameter to catch flying insects. As soon as something hits the web, the golden orb weaver, waiting on the web, can feel the vibrations and can finish the prey off. Trichonephila clavipes creates a very strong silk that is eight times as strong as steel and is also being researched for medical purposes. Scientists hope to use the silk to repair broken human nerve strands.

Golden-silk orb weaver female and male Georgia
A beautiful female golden-silk orb weaver and the much smaller male in the background. Photographed in Savannah, Georgia

Bite

The banana spider is not a medically significant spider and a bite will most certainly only generate some minor discomfort. Generally much less than a bee sting. This is true for any orb weaver bite.

Trichonephila clavipes scientific classification

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

Other common names

Trichonephila clavipes is commonly also called banana spider, Golden-silk orb weaver, golden-silk spider, golden spider and golden orb weaver.

An older female Trichonephila clavipes with a darker body color. Photo by Megan taken in Pass Christian, Mississippi

Distribution of the Golden Silk orb weaver in the USA

Trichonephila Clavipes – Golden-Silk Orb Weaver range

As mentioned above, the Golden Silk orb weaver can be found in the warm, Southern United States. That means that it can mostly be found in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. However, during the hotter summer months, some specimen may travel further North and reproduce also in other States.

Trichonephila Clavipes – Banana Spider

47 thoughts on “Trichonephila Clavipes – Banana Spider

  1. Found in Newberry, South Carolina. Body was “flattened” and oblong, legs thin with fuzz at the joint. Found on a web with random construction in a toolshed. Between 1-2 inches in diameter.

  2. This spider is making a web outside our front door. It is disorganized connecting to the overhead light, door and wall. We thought it was a zipper spider, but it isn’t the right coloring with yellow. ID finder didn’t work for this one.

  3. A banana spider has made a web and as of last night, an egg sack on our porch. Could you tell me what to expect with the hatching, when to expect it? Will she die now? Would it be safe to relocate her and the sack? I want to avoid the hatching near my front door.

  4. I found this guy a few days ago and idk if it’s poisonous or not it’s killed three big spiders in the past few days and I don’t want my dogs getting hurt if it’s a poisonous spider. It was found in the Lawrenceville area

    1. Hello Mike, this is a golden-silk orb weaver or banana spider, Trichonephila clavipes. It’s not a medically significant spider and occurs in the southern United States. Would you mind sharing your location where you found the spider?

  5. I found this pair of spiders in a wooded area beside my home in Shallotte, NC on 9-5-21. I believe they are a pair of “Banana Spiders” or Golden-Silk orb weaver spiders (Trichonephila Clavipes) per information on this site, but please confirm. If I’m correct, then the smaller one is the male and the very large one is the female. The larger on measured an almost unbelievable 2.5 to 3″ long.

    1. Hello Stanley, thanks for getting in touch! Yes, you are right with your identification. These are male and female banana spiders (Trichonephila clavipes). The smaller one is the male.

  6. We have this large spider outside our home. We have had them in the past, but never this large. We have nicknamed it Shelob. Its body is about 1″ long, and total diameter is about 3-3.5″ long. Have I correctly identified this as a banana spider?

    1. I’m wondering if it isn’t an invasive Joro spider, a Asian native, perhaps immature?🤔
      I am here to find the key features to tell the difference. Joros have red on abdomen in mature females, and don’t have the same dot pattern, but am less sure on telling immature ones from the darker variations of older Banana spiders…

      1. Hello Jeff and N.V., yes, this is most likely a joro spider (Trichonephila clavata). The main differences to tell them apart are:
        – Their range (in the U.S., joros are currently only found in Georgia and South Carolina)
        – Banana spiders have a more banana-yellow color while joros are greenish-yellow
        – The black leg bands of banana spiders have tufts of hair while joros usually don’t.

  7. Found this in my yard in Picayune, MS! Web was at least 6 feet wide, and wrapped all the way up a very large tree, 2 adults, 3+ babys, about as big as my hand! 😱

  8. Hi! I found this large spider on my back porch steps this morning in Edom, Texas (northeast Tx). Is it a banana spider? Thank you for your help identifying it.
    Cassie

  9. There are several of these in my front yard and although they look like a zigzag zag spider that I found out about, there is different patterns to this species.

  10. My daughter saw this spider on the ceiling of my patio & the next day the spider had set up her orb web between my 12ft columns smack center of the patio. I told her it was a banana spider & not dangerous but she begs to differ. I’m going to watch her thrive. This is day 3, Oct. 1st.

  11. Great site! Already identified several in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area. Here are some pix.
    Oops, apparently only one image at a time. Will send them separately.

  12. I have had the pleasure to be able to observe two golden silk orb weavers this summer and fall. Both fell from their Webb’s on a cold night three days ago. Both were alive but only moved when touched. Both are still alive but only respond when touched. Is this their normal behavior when they die or is it that the cold that is causing their death?

  13. I’m terrified of spiders… but did well to get a picture of one. I can feel my skin crawling.

  14. I believe this is a banana spider that made a web above my shed by the house in Conway, SC. She originally attached the web to my trash bin, so I made a deal that I would leave her be if she stayed away from the trash can. Three weeks later and the web has gotten larger—I think she has too—but hasn’t been attached to the trash bin.

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