Western Spotted Orb Weaver – Neoscona Oaxacensis

The western spotted orb weaver, Neoscona oaxacensis, is a large orb weaving spider found in the Southwestern United States and throughout Central and South America. In the United States, this large, dark-colored orb weaver is most commonly found in grape fields in California.

Western Spotted Orbweaver Description

While the spider can appear in a number of color variations throughout its range, specimens found in the United States have a large black or dark gray abdomen with numerous small cream-colored spots. A longitudinal cream-colored or yellow stripe with wavy borders runs along the entire back of the abdomen.

Western Spotted Orb Weaver – Neoscona Oaxacensis information
A young western spotted orb weaver in its web. The yellow marking on the back can be less distinct towards the head area, especially in older specimens. Photo: Renee Grayson

The legs of the western spotted orb weaver are spiny (or hairy) and most commonly with alternating black and cream-colored, yellow or orange bands.

The western spotted orb weaver can have a similar appearance to other orb weavers of the genus Neoscona. If the markings on the back are not very distinct and the spider has light colors, it can look very similar to spiders of the species Neoscona crucifera (spotted orb weaver). If the markings are very distinct, it can look similar to the arabesque orb weaver (Neoscona arabesca). Some specimen can also be confused with the tropical orb weaver (Eriophora ravilla). None of the orb weaver spiders found in the United States or elsewhere are medically significant.

Size

The body of the larger female western spotted orb weaver can reach a total size of 0.35-0.7 inches (9-18 mm). Male specimen usually have a smaller abdomen and are around 30 % smaller than females.

Web

As other orb weavers, Neoscona oaxacensis builds large orb-shaped webs in gardens, forests or fields to catch flying insects. Many sightings occurs in the vineyards and avocado orchards in California.

Western Spotted Orb Weaver – Neoscona Oaxacensis in california with prey
A western spotted orb weaver, Neoscona oaxacensis, with prey in its web. Photo: Flickr

Bite

The western spotted orb weaver is not considered medically significant and a bite does usually not have any long-term effects on humans or larger pets. Symptoms of a bite can range from localized pain to swellings comparable to a bee sting. However, due to the large size of the spider, any bite wound should be disinfected properly to avoid secondary infections.

juvenile western spotted orb weaver in california orchard
A juvenile western spotted orb weaver found in California. Photo: Flickr

Neoscona oaxacensis range in the US

The western spotted orb weaver prefers a warm climate and is found in the Southwestern United States. While most sightings in the United States occur in California, it is also found in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma.

Neoscona oaxacensis scientific classification

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

Next to it’s most used common name, the western spotted orb weaver, Neoscona oaxacensis is also referred to as western garden orbweaver.

References

  • Taxon details: World Spider Catalogue
  • Binominal name from: Keyserling, 1864
  • http://idtools.org/id/table_grape/spider/factsheet.php?name=Neoscona+oaxacensis
  • Keyserling, E. (1864), “Beschreibungen neuer und wenig bekannter Arten aus der Familie Orbitelae Latr. oder Epeiridae Sund.”, Sitzungsberichte und Abhandlungen der Naturwissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft Isis in Dresden (in German), 1863.
  • Pascoe, F. H. (1980), A study of Neoscona oaxacensis (Araneae: Araneidae) in commercial avocado orchards in San Diego County, California. Calif. Avocado Soc 1980 Yearbook 64: 153-186.
Western Spotted Orb Weaver – Neoscona Oaxacensis

54 thoughts on “Western Spotted Orb Weaver – Neoscona Oaxacensis

  1. I’m in El Centro, California and found this fella today. My dad and I’ve been going back and forth on what kind of spider this may be. We haven’t found any one spider that exactly matches this one. Would appreciate finding out what this lil guy is, thank you.

      1. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
        Found this spider on the hood of my car. Tan in color with head larger than back, short legs.

  2. Hi,

    Is this a spotted orb weaver or barn spider? She made her web outside my window on the 12th floor of my NYC apartment. She is nocturnal and usually hangs upside down. I don’t think she rebuilds the web daily, but she does clean it when dust or debris get on it. Also last night she had a visitor which I’m guessing was a male looking to mate. (This taken after a tropical storm which caused some damage to her web)

  3. Found above my tomato plant in my TX garden. What is it?? It has similar markings to a juvenile western spotted orb.. thoughts?

      1. Hello Thayne, thanks for getting in touch! Could you please share your location to help with the identification?

  4. I found this spider on my arctic cat. It was spinning a web on the door. I live in the desert and can’t find what type of spider it is.

  5. Found this spider a week or two ago outside my back door, up to the right. It has spun a fairly large round web, and I have noticed that the spider goes to the center of the web during the NIGHT and goes to this spot at the edge of the web and hidden under the ledge during the DAY. Anyone know what kind of spider this is? I also live in south Texas (Rio Grande Valley) if that helps identify.

  6. Hello! I found this spider and I haven’t been able to id yet. I live in Mesa, Az. I think it might be part of the cobweb spiders as the spiderweb looked similar to that of those spiders.

  7. Seems like it would be a western spotted orb weaver, but the markings aren’t as distinct as some shown here (not a juvenile) and certainly not orange.

  8. Found in Mesa, Arizona in the summer. Kind of cream-colored with markings on the top of the abdomen, an odd kind of crab-shaped upper body, and spiny banded legs. The body was not very big, maybe half an inch or so, definitely smaller than most wolf spiders I see, and does not appear to have hair. I regret not getting a good look or picture of the underside or eyes.

      1. Ah, I think I missed the response in my email somewhere and forgot to check again. I looked through like a billion pictures on the internet trying to find something that looked at all similar but nothing came up, and most spider ID sight search settings seem really general, like just color(s). The third picture on that link totally looks right though. Good to know it’s not dangerous, and it just looked weird enough to me I couldn’t help but be curious what it was. Thank you =)

    1. Hi Gary, this is a spotted orb weaver (Neoscona sp.). My guess is this is a western spotted orbweaver (Neoscona oaxacensis):
      https://usaspiders.com/western-spotted-orb-weaver-neoscona-oaxacensis/
      A picture of the upper body side would give more certainty.
      If you are interested in learning more about spiders in California, check out our California spider identification and information book – available as an ebook here or as a printed paperback on Amazon.

      1. Photo of this spider was taken August 29, 2022 in a state park in Tullahoma, TN on a swinging bridge. Black and white legs and overall size 1”. Can you provide ID please.

  9. He has a good size web across an old pickup’s bed, He sits in the middle for hours on end, during the day. Love to know what type of spider this is.

      1. Found this little guy on my sink one evening and I have several pics of this guy. He was about 1/4-1/2″ length, two Hine legs he hid under belly to look like he only had 6. His back looked like a cowboy boot with metal around toe. Now this pic he looks like a wolf eyes, ears, jowls, this Pic was eye level facing him

  10. Found this beauty in the corner of our Pima County, AZ porch. Her(?) web is orb-shaped and spans about 2.5ft at the longest side of the triangle; leaves it up but hides in the rafters during the day. There’s a circular hole in the web. She’s got three vertical stripes on her belly (couldn’t get a good picture in the dark last night) and her body is less than an inch long, maybe around a half inch. Her top side is white and cream and her legs have black stripes. I have more pictures I can send via email if that helps. Thank you!

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