Tropical Orb Weaver – Eriophora Ravilla

The tropical orb weaver, Eriophora ravilla, is a harmless orb weaver spider found throughout the tropical areas of the Americas from Florida along the Guld Coast, throughout Central America, the Caribbean Islands and Northern South America.

Tropical Orbweaver Description

The tropical orb weaver can come in a variety of colors and is therefore often hard to identify. It often comes in dull brown colors without any specific markings, and is therefore often confused with the spotted orb weaver (Neoscona crucifera).

Most sightings are of female specimens, hanging head down inside their large, orb-shaped webs. The female has a large round abdomen and the entire body is covered with thin spines (hairs).

Certain color variations that commonly appear can make some tropical orb weavers easy to identify.

They can have a rectangular or diamond-shaped yellow, cream or green colored patch on the back of their abdomen.

A male tropical orb weaver Eriophora Ravilla in Florida brown and yellow

Other specimen have a clearly distinguished asymmetrical and longitudinal white stripe or pattern.

Tropical orb weaver dark brown with white marking on back in web

Others have very strong orange and green or yellow colors with peculiar large black dots on the back of the abdomen.

Eriophora Ravilla tropical orb weaver yellow orange with black spots in large web
A colorful tropical orb weaver found in Texas. Photo: Judy Gallagher

Size

The tropical orb weaver is a large orb weaver spider. Female specimen can reach a total body length of up to 1 inch (25 mm). Smaller specimen are around half that size. Males are generally smaller than females, reaching a maximum body size of 0.5 inches (13 mm) and have a much smaller abdomen.

Web

The tropical orb weaver usually spends daytime hidden away in curled up leaves or other hideouts. Once the sun starts to set, it emerges and builds a large, orb shaped web between trees, plants or human structures. The spider usually spends the night in the center of the web. As soon as a prey animal flies into the sticky web, the spider can feel the vibrations and immediately rushes to the prey and immobilizes it with a bite before wrapping it up in silk.

Bite

As all other orb weaver spiders, the tropical orb weaver is harmless for humans and larger pets. The spider’s venom is targeted at small flying insects. In the rare cases where humans or pets are bitten, symptoms range from minor localized pain to swellings. However, it is still recommended to disinfect any bite wound properly to avoid infections. If you feel unwell after a spider bite, consult a medical professional as allergic reactions or misidentifications of spiders can occur.

Eriophora ravilla scientific classification

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

Geographic Range of the tropical orb weaver in the United States

In the United States, the tropical orb weaver occurs mostly in Florida. Populations can also be found in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and California.

References

  • Taxon details: World Spider Catalogue
  • Binominal name from: Koch, 1867
  • Levi HW. 1970. The Ravilla group of the orb weaver genus Eriophora in North America (Araneae: Araneidae). Psyche 77: 280-302.
Tropical Orb Weaver – Eriophora Ravilla

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