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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Taxon details: World Spider Catalogue
- Binominal name from: Keyserling, 1864
- 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.