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Laura, Lumi and Anda, juvenile Banana Spiders or Golden Silk Spiders (Nephila clavipes)
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Names: Laura, Lumi and Anda
Species: Golden Silk Spider (Banana or Calico) Spider (Nephila clavipes) Nephila clavipes
Kingdom:Metazoa (multicellular animals)
Phylum:Arthopoda (arthropods)
Class:Arachnida (spiders, harvestmen, scorpions, mites)
Order:Araneae (spiders)
Family:Tetragnathidae (long jawed orbweavers)
Genus: Nephila
Range: Southeastern United States, Central America, Northern South America
Color: Black, White with yellow spots (juvenile female)
Size: May 23, 2004 0.5 cm in length and 1 mm diameter (female thorax)
Commonly Found During: Spring
Prey: Small to Medium-Sized Flying Insects (flies, bees, wasps, moths)
Defense Mechanism: Bite (non-poisonous; will only bite if provoked)
References: Florida Nature,

These spiders turned into a real adventure. Initially I thought that they were juvenile females. But they never developed into full grown females. Also they exhibited a very interesting high frequency lateral vibration of their body when I plucked one of the supporting elements of their web. I thought that this might be a defence mechanism. I thought it was lost as they matured, but this turned out to be incorrect. I observed this with Susan this fall - Her oscillation rate was quite slow (as you can see from the video) but nevertheless, was still available.


Laura bathed in flash: Her growth and development while hiding in our garden. (July 8: While exploring other sites, I came across other photos of Nephila clavpies indicating that my Laura, is possibly a male and that I have misidentified her/him.

Hi - my name is Laura and I am a very quiet banana spider (Nephila clavipes). Frank found me one afternoon, soon after I was born and started weaving my web. My web is 3 dimensional, but the business part of my web is a planar structure of the finest golden silk. Even though I am quite young, I know how to build a web, how to repair it and how to catch dinner. Below is Frank's story.

(These photos were taken with a partially occluded flash to avoid washout. Nikon 5700, manual focus, Gimp unsharp mask for post processing.) It has been almost 2 years since I first found Natasha in our garden. Natasha was a fully matured golden silk spider (banana spider or technically Nephila clavipes) and she was quite large (about 10 cm if you include her legs). I never saw any males with her and wondered what would appear next (2003) year. Well, nothing appeared. Every day I walked past her home - looking inside the bush to see if there were any new children hiding. Every day I found nothing.

This spring, Gene sent me a photo of an egg sack which showed many many micro-spiders inside. Unfortunately, they disappeared. I was encouraged, though, and started looking everywhere in our garden to find a similar egg sack. Nothing!

This year, I have continued my search. Each day as I walk to work, I walk along our drive which is lined with small bushes. I look in, around, under - just about everywhere - for any signs of spider life. Yesterday I saw a small web - not well organized - more like a cob web. But I looked closely and saw some small flowers caught in the web. Then suddenly there was Laura, thin, beautiful and with unusual colors (see Florida Nature photo). She was only about 1 cm long and the diameter of her thorax must be no more than 2 mm. So I started to take some photos. Photographically, with a digital camera, the focus is a problem - as the auto focus wants to grab the edge of a leaf or some other object that shows a sharp change in contrast. I used the manual focus and had a small success. Here are the results.

Laura bathed in natural light: May 23, 2004
The above photos were taken with a flash, with my finger covering half the flash in order too much light (the camera lens is about 10 cm from Laura). Here is a photo taken in natural light - a bit blurry, because the wind moves the web and I am unable to remain still while bending over the flowers to take the photos.
Laura's sister, Anda, Jun 04, 2004
Here are Laura's sisters, Anda and Lumi ( not shown). I found her this morning with a wonderful web built on the iron fence in front of our home. It is exposed to the sidewalk so I am not sure how long she will survive - but just now, she is enjoying her home. She is about 2x larger than I am - probably because Anda has access to a greater insect population. See the scale on the left. I am about 1/2 the size of Anda (sigh).

Laura says bye-bye and Lumi sticks around
Rather strong rain attacked Charleson on June 17 and 18. When we returned on Sunday, June 20, I, of course, toured our garden. Laura and her web were absent, but Lumi was still in her place - catching dinner, repairing her web and posing for photos.
Laura's friends in Florida
May 25 we drove Plant City, Florida in order to help with a friend's wedding. We stayed in Waldon Lake and there is a nice lake with jogging trail around it. One afternoon, I decided to walk along the trail and look for some banana spiders, assuming that they would be much larger than thoses in Charleston - since the spring started earlier here. To my surprise, I found many clusters of webs - where each cluster consisted of the typical planar web, surrounded by a tangle of other fibers. In each cluster, I found 1 or 2 spiders and several skeletons. Initially I thought they were all juvenile Nephila clavipes but there was something different and it turned out that they were something quite new for me and my curious eyes: Mecynogea lemniscata.

Visit my pictures ---> or Watch video of my defensive vibration

Copyright C. Frank Starmer 2004

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