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

11 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)

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